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What can reverse causation tell us about demographic differences in the social network and social support determinants of self-rated health in late life?

Middle aged couple researching online

Heather Booth, Pilar Rioseco and Heather Crawford

Few studies of the association between social networks (SN), social support (SS) and self-rated health (SRH) address the role of demography in determining that association. Yet demography defines social-structural context, differentiates family from friend networks and influences network structures. This study examines the SN-SRH association through cross-cutting analyses of four demographically-defined groups (Males, Females, Partnered, Unpartnered) and three networks (Family, Friend, Group).

The findings question the validity of studies assuming only positive causation and underline the importance of demographic differentiation of both population and networks for understanding the SN-SRH association.

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