Scientific article
Open access

Socioeconomic status, structural and functional measures of social support, and mortality: The British Whitehall II Cohort Study, 1985-2009

Published inAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 175, no. 12, p. 1275-1283
Publication date2012

The authors examined the associations of social support with socioeconomic status (SES) and with mortality, as well as how SES differences in social support might account for SES differences in mortality. Analyses were based on 9,333 participants from the British Whitehall II Study cohort, a longitudinal cohort established in 1985 among London-based civil servants who were 35-55 years of age at baseline. SES was assessed using participant's employment grades at baseline. Social support was assessed 3 times in the 24.4-year period during which participants were monitored for death. In men, marital status, and to a lesser extent network score (but not low perceived support or high negative aspects of close relationships), predicted both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Measures of social support were not associated with cancer mortality. Men in the lowest SES category had an increased risk of death compared with those in the highest category (for all-cause mortality, hazard ratio = 1.59, 95% confidence interval: 1.21, 2.08; for cardiovascular mortality, hazard ratio = 2.48, 95% confidence interval: 1.55, 3.92). Network score and marital status combined explained 27% (95% confidence interval: 14, 43) and 29% (95% confidence interval: 17, 52) of the associations between SES and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively. In women, there was no consistent association between social support indicators and mortality. The present study suggests that in men, social isolation is not only an important risk factor for mortality but is also likely to contribute to differences in mortality by SES.

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • London/epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Social Support
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
STRINGHINI, Silvia et al. Socioeconomic status, structural and functional measures of social support, and mortality: The British Whitehall II Cohort Study, 1985-2009. In: American Journal of Epidemiology, 2012, vol. 175, n° 12, p. 1275–1283. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr461
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0002-9262

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