Presentation (Project) Title

Perceived Social Capital & Risky Health Behaviors in Diverse Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Mentor Information

Maureen Templeman (School of Aging Studies)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Perceived social capital, defined as perceived neighborhood quality and social support from friends and family, can have both positive and negative impacts on health behaviors. Data also suggests that consequences of alcohol and substance use disorders, as well as smoking, vary by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. It is important to understand how social capital affects different groups’ engagement in risky health behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, and substance use. We sought to test if there were significant relationships between perceived social capital and engagement in risky health behaviors among diverse middle-aged and older adults. Based on the social determinants of health, we hypothesized that beyond demographic factors, lower perceived social capital would increase engagement in risky health behaviors. Our sample included 4709 Black and White participants ages 40 and above from MIDUS, a population-based study that examines various aspects of midlife development. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were used to determine if different elements of social capital explain a statistically significant amount of variance in engagement in risky health behaviors, after accounting for sex, race, and level of education. We found that, in addition to demographic factors, lower perceived social capital was associated with more engagement in all three kinds of risky health behaviors. However, specific aspects of perceived social capital are related to different risky health behaviors. These results suggest that interventions targeting various risky health behaviors should be modified for specific aspects of social capital.

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Perceived Social Capital & Risky Health Behaviors in Diverse Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Perceived social capital, defined as perceived neighborhood quality and social support from friends and family, can have both positive and negative impacts on health behaviors. Data also suggests that consequences of alcohol and substance use disorders, as well as smoking, vary by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. It is important to understand how social capital affects different groups’ engagement in risky health behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol use, and substance use. We sought to test if there were significant relationships between perceived social capital and engagement in risky health behaviors among diverse middle-aged and older adults. Based on the social determinants of health, we hypothesized that beyond demographic factors, lower perceived social capital would increase engagement in risky health behaviors. Our sample included 4709 Black and White participants ages 40 and above from MIDUS, a population-based study that examines various aspects of midlife development. Hierarchical linear regression analyses were used to determine if different elements of social capital explain a statistically significant amount of variance in engagement in risky health behaviors, after accounting for sex, race, and level of education. We found that, in addition to demographic factors, lower perceived social capital was associated with more engagement in all three kinds of risky health behaviors. However, specific aspects of perceived social capital are related to different risky health behaviors. These results suggest that interventions targeting various risky health behaviors should be modified for specific aspects of social capital.