Social integration and healthy aging among U.S. women.
ABSTRACT: Social integration has been related to risk of chronic diseases and mental health conditions.We investigated the association between social integration in midlife with subsequent health and well-being in aging.We included women from the Nurses' Health Study in the United States, who had no major chronic diseases in 1996 when we assessed social integration, using the Berkman-Syme Social Network Index. We defined healthy aging after 16?years of follow-up, when women ranged from 66 to 91?years, on the basis of survival along with 4 health criteria, assessed in 2012: no history of major chronic disease diagnosis, no self-reported impairment in memory, and no major impairments in physical function or mental health.Of the 41,013 surviving participants in 2012 with information on social integration and health criteria, 6206 (15.1%) were healthy agers (i.e., met all four criteria) and the remaining 34,807 (84.9%) were usual agers. After multivariable adjustment, women who were socially integrated at midlife had modestly better odds (odds ratio?=?1.38, 95% confidence interval: 1.23, 1.55) of healthy aging compared to women who were socially isolated.In this study, we found that women who were more socially integrated were more likely to be healthy agers. The results provide evidence for a longitudinal association between social integration and healthy aging.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Although stronger social relationships have been associated with reduced mortality risk in prior research, their associations with favorable health outcomes are understudied. We evaluated whether higher social integration levels were associated with longer life span and greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity. METHOD:Women from the Nurses' Health Study completed the Berkman-Syme Social Network Index in 1992 (N = 72,322; average age = 58.80 years), and were followed through 2014 with biennial questionnaires. Deaths were ascertained from participants' families, postal authorities, and death registries. Accelerated failure time models adjusting for relevant covariates estimated percent changes in life span associated with social integration levels; logistic regressions evaluated likelihood of surviving to age 85 years or older among women who could reach that age during follow-up (N = 16,818). RESULTS:After controlling for baseline demographics and chronic diseases, socially integrated versus isolated women had 10% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 8.80-11.42) longer life span and 41% (95% CI = 1.28-1.54) higher odds of surviving to age 85 years. All findings remained statistically significant after further adjusting for health behaviors and depression. DISCUSSION:Better social integration is related to longer life span and greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity among midlife women. Findings suggest social integration may be an important psychosocial asset to evaluate for promoting longer, healthier lives.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The need for longitudinal, population-based studies to illuminate women's experiences of symptoms during the menopausal transition motivated the development of the Seattle Midlife Women's Health Study.<h4>Methods</h4>Longitudinal, population-based study of symptoms women experienced between the Late Reproductive stage of reproductive aging and the early postmenopause. Data collection began in 1990 with 508 women ages 35-55 and continued to 2013. Entry criteria included age, at least one period in past 12 months, uterus intact and at least 1 ovary. Women were studied up to 5 years postmenopause. Data collection included yearly health questionnaires, health diaries, urinary hormonal assays, menstrual calendars and buccal cell smears.<h4>Results</h4>Contributions of the study included development of a method for staging the menopausal transition; development of bleeding criteria to differentiate bleeding episodes from intermenstrual bleeding from menstrual calendars; identification of hormonal changes associated with menopausal transition stages; assessment of the effects of menopausal transition factors, aging, stress-related factors, health factors, social factors on symptoms, particularly hot flashes, depressed mood, pain, cognitive, sexual desire, and sleep disruption symptoms, and urinary incontinence symptoms; identification of naturally occurring clusters of symptoms women experienced during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause; and assessment of gene polymorphisms associated with events such as onset of the early and late menopausal transition stages and symptoms.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Over the course of the longitudinal Seattle Midlife Women's Health Study, investigators contributed to understanding of symptoms women experience during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause as well as methods of staging reproductive aging.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>"Third agers" are people over retirement age in relatively good health; third agers make up an increasing percentage of the global population as the world's longevity increases. Therefore, the challenge of prolonging a healthy third age and shortening the unhealthy period during the "fourth age" in the global health and social contexts is important in this process. However, no means to measure and support this has been developed as yet. We developed the Social Contact Self-Efficacy Scale for Third Agers (SET) and evaluated its reliability and validity.<h4>Methods</h4>We used a self-administered mail survey covering 2,600 randomly selected independent older adults living in Yokohama, Japan. The construct validity of the SET was determined using exploratory factor and confirmatory factor analyses. Its criterion-related validity was assessed using the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES), the Japan Science and Technology Agency Index of Competence (JST-IC), and subjective health status.<h4>Results</h4>In total, 1,139 older adults provided responses. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified eight items within two factors: social space mobility and social support relationship. The final model had a Cronbach's alpha 0.834, goodness-of-fit index 0.976, adjusted goodness-of-fit index 0.955, comparative fit index 0.982, and root mean square error of approximation 0.050. There was good correlation between scale scores and the GSES (r = 0.552, p < 0.001), JST-IC (r = 0.495, p < 0.001) and subjective health status (r = 0.361, p < 0.001).<h4>Conclusions</h4>The SET showed sufficient reliability and validity to assess self-efficacy in promoting social contact among third agers. This scale may help third agers in gaining and expanding opportunities for social contact, which can improve their physical health and quality of life and contribute to care prevention and healthy longevity.
Project description:RATIONALE:Higher social integration is associated with lower cardiovascular mortality; however, whether it is associated with incident coronary heart disease (CHD), especially in women, and whether associations differ by case fatality are unclear. OBJECTIVES:This study sought to examine the associations between social integration and risk of incident CHD in a large female prospective cohort. METHODS AND RESULTS:Seventy-six thousand three hundred and sixty-two women in the Nurses' Health Study, free of CHD and stroke at baseline (1992), were followed until 2014. Social integration was assessed by a simplified Berkman-Syme Social Network Index every 4 years. End points included nonfatal myocardial infarction and fatal CHD. Two thousand three hundred and seventy-two incident CHD events occurred throughout follow-up. Adjusting for demographic, health/medical risk factors, and depressive symptoms, being socially integrated was significantly associated with lower CHD risk, particularly fatal CHD. The most socially integrated women had a hazard ratio of 0.55 (95% confidence interval, 0.41-0.73) of developing fatal CHD compared with those least socially integrated (P for trend <0.0001). When additionally adjusting for lifestyle behaviors, findings for fatal CHD were maintained but attenuated (P for trend =0.02), whereas the significant associations no longer remained for nonfatal myocardial infarction. The inverse associations between social integration and nonfatal myocardial infarction risk were largely explained by health-promoting behaviors, particularly through differences in cigarette smoking; however, the association with fatal CHD risk remained after accounting for these behaviors and, thus, may involve more direct biological mechanisms. CONCLUSIONS:Social integration is inversely associated with CHD incidence in women, but is largely explained by lifestyle/behavioral pathways.
Project description:Social integration is defined as the degree to which an individual participates in a broad range of social relationships. Although measures of social integration vary across studies, it is often assessed as the number of social roles (e.g., parent, friend, student, volunteer) that an individual reports actively participating in. More socially integrated individuals tend to be healthier than those less socially integrated, but the biological mechanisms through which this occurs remain unclear. One possibility is that social integration might alter the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, of which cortisol is a key product, and in turn influence a broad range of health outcomes. This study examined the association between social integration and two indices of cortisol in a community sample of 680 healthy men and women aged 18-55. Because the social roles held by younger individuals may be more numerous yet superficial than those held by older individuals, this study also tested the hypothesis that these associations could be moderated by age such that lower levels of integration would be associated with cortisol dysregulation for older but not younger individuals in our sample. Participants provided salivary cortisol samples during waking hours on three days that were used to calculate diurnal cortisol levels and slopes. Increased social integration was associated with lower cortisol AUC among older (ages 35-55) but not younger (ages 18-34) individuals in our sample. Moreover, while increased social integration was associated with steeper diurnal cortisol slopes regardless of age, this association was strongest among older individuals. Differences in health behaviors, affect, and psychological stress did not mediate these associations. The results of this study support cortisol as a candidate biological mechanism through which increased social integration is associated with better physical health among older individuals.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In comparison to their urban and suburban counterparts, midlife and older rural women are less likely to consume adequate fruit and vegetables (F&V). The present study aimed to examine the relationships between psychological, social, and environmental factors and F&V intake among midlife and older rural women in the United States. METHODS:This cross-sectional study utilized data from 513 midlife and older rural women (mean age?=?67.0, mean BMI?=?26.8) living in 22 states. Linear regression models were used to examine the associations between women's daily F&V intake and cooking confidence, healthy eating self-efficacy, perceived stress, healthy eating social support, and perceived food environment. RESULTS:Cooking confidence (p?<?0.001) and healthy eating self-efficacy (p?<?0.001) were positively associated with F&V intake. Perceived stress, healthy eating social support, and perceived food environment were not associated with F&V intake (p?>?0.05). When all the independent variables were analyzed simultaneously, only healthy eating self-efficacy remained positively associated with F&V intake (p?<?0.001). CONCLUSIONS:Findings from our study provide important information on the influences of rural women's healthy eating self-efficacy and cooking confidence on their F&V intake. Our results may be useful to inform and evaluate targeted strategies to improve the dietary health of rural women.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Allostatic load has been suggested as a pathway through which experiences become biologically embedded to influence health. Research on childhood predictors of allostatic load has focused on socioeconomic and psychosocial exposures, while few studies include prospective measures of biomedical exposures. Further, findings on sex differences in the association of childhood predictors with various health outcomes related to allostatic load are ambiguous. AIMS:To examine the influence of early life biomedical and social factors in the first year of life on midlife allostatic load, assessing potential sex differences. METHODS:This prospective cohort study includes early life information collected at birth and a one year examination for 1,648 members of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort who also participated in the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank study (aged 49-52 years, 56% women). Allostatic load based on 14 biomarkers was selected as a measure of midlife health status. Early life factors were categorized as predominantly biomedical or social, and their associations with midlife allostatic load were examined in domain-specific and combined sex-stratified multiple regression models. RESULTS:The biomedical factors model explained 6.6% of the variance in midlife allostatic load in men and 6.7% in women, while the social model explained 4.1% of the variance in men and 7.3% in women. For both sexes, parental socioeconomic position at one year and maternal BMI significantly predicted midlife allostatic load in a model containing all early life factors. For women, additional significant predictors were complications at birth, birth weight and not living with parents at one year. CONCLUSION:The results confirm an association of lower childhood socioeconomic position with higher adult allostatic load while demonstrating the importance of other prenatal and early life exposures and highlighting potential sex differences.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To test whether early-life factors (education, height, father's social position) and midlife social, behavioral, and psychosocial factors were associated with entering older age without disease and with good functioning. DESIGN:A longitudinal, British civil service-based cohort study. Participants were followed for 17 years to assess successful aging. This was defined as being free of major disease and in the top tertile of physical and cognitive functioning measured in 2002 to 2004. SETTING:Twenty London-based Civil Service departments. PARTICIPANTS:Four thousand, one hundred forty men and 1,823 women, free of major disease at baseline in 1985 to 1988 (mean age 44, range 35-55). MEASUREMENTS:Behavioral, biological, and psychosocial risk factors; physical and cognitive functioning; and disease outcomes. RESULTS:Five hundred forty eight (12.8%) men and 246 (14.6%) women were successfully aging at follow-up. Midlife socioeconomic position strongly predicted this (age-adjusted odds ratio, highest vs lowest=7.1, 95% CI=3.4-14.6, for men and 7.7, 95% CI=4.9-12.1, for women). Height, education (in men), not smoking, diet, exercise, moderate alcohol (in women), and work support (in men) were related to a favorable older life after adjustment for age and socioeconomic position. CONCLUSION:Interventions to promote healthy adult behavior may attenuate harmful effects of less-modifiable risk factors and reduce social inequalities.
Project description:Healthy lifestyles are promising targets for prevention of cognitive aging, yet the optimal time windows for interventions remain unclear. We selected a case-control sample nested within the Nurses' Health Study (starting year 1976, mean age = 51 years), including 14,956 women aged ≥70 years who were free of both stroke and cognitive impairment at enrollment in a cognitive substudy (1995-2001). Cases (n = 1,496) were women with the 10% worst slopes of cognitive decline, and controls (n = 7,478) were those with slopes better than the median. We compared the trajectories of body mass index (weight (kg)/height (m)2), alternate Mediterranean diet (A-MeDi) score, and physical activity between groups, from midlife through 1 year preceding the cognitive substudy. In midlife, cases had higher body mass index than controls (mean difference (MD) = 0.59 units, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.39, 0.80), lower physical activity (MD = -1.41 metabolic equivalent of task-hours/week, 95% CI: -2.07, -0.71), and worse A-MeDi scores (MD = -0.16 points, 95% CI: -0.26, -0.06). From midlife through later life, compared with controls, cases had consistently lower A-MeDi scores but a deceleration of weight gain and a faster decrease in physical activity. In conclusion, maintaining a healthy lifestyle since midlife may help reduce cognitive decline in aging. At older ages, both deceleration of weight gain and a decrease in physical activity may reflect early signs of cognitive impairment.