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Association between social relationships on survival of Swiss octogenarians. A five-year prospective, population-based study

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Published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. 2005, vol. 17, no. 5, p. 419-425
Abstract Data from the literature reveal the contrasting influences of family members and friends on the survival of old adults. On one hand, numerous studies have reported a positive association between social relationships and survival. On the other, ties with children may be associated with an increased risk of disability, whereas ties with friends or other relatives tend to improve survival. A five-year prospective, population-based study of 295 Swiss octogenarians tested the hypothesis that having a spouse, siblings or close friends, and regular contacts with relatives or friends are associated with longer survival, even at a very old age. Data were collected through individual interviews, and a Cox regression model was applied to assess the effects of kinship and friendship networks on survival, after adjusting for socio-demographic and health-related variables. Our analyses indicate that the presence of a spouse in the household is not significantly related to survival, whereas the presence of siblings at baseline improves the oldest old's chances of surviving five years later. Moreover, the existence of close friends is a central component in the patterns of social relationships of oldest adults, and one which is significantly associated with survival. Overall, the protective effect of social relationships on survival is more related to the quality of those relationships (close friends) than to the frequency of relationships (regular contacts). We hypothesize that the existence of siblings or close friends may beneficially affect survival, due to the potential influence on the attitudes of octogenarians regarding health practices and adaptive strategies.
Keywords Etude longitudinaleFamilleGrande vieillesseRéseau d'aideSurvieSwilsoo
Stable URL https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:1583
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Deposited on : 2009-05-13

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