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Social support networks and psychological wellbeing in community-dwelling older Ghanaian cohorts

  • Razak M. Gyasi (a1) (a2), David R. Phillips (a1) and Kabila Abass (a3)

Abstract

Background:

Social support networks for older persons have been related to health outcomes including differences in psychological wellbeing (PWB). However, the specifics of this relationship remain unclear especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This study investigates the (1) relationship between aspects of social support and PWB among older persons in Ghana and (2) the extent to which this relationship is moderated by their education levels and locational characteristics.

Method:

The study included 1,200 community-residing individuals aged 50 years and older who participated in an Aging, Health, Psychological Wellbeing and Health-seeking Behavior Study (AHPWHB) conducted between July 2016 and February 2017. Logistic regression models evaluated the associations of social support and their interactions with education and locational variables in PWB.

Results:

Several aspects of meaningful social support: family/friends contacts ( β = 0.958, p < 0.05), couple focused ( β = 0.887, p < 0.001), emotional bonds ( β = 0.658, p < 0.005), attending social events ( β = 0.519, p < 0.001) and remittances from children ( β = 0.394, p < 0.005) significantly related to improved PWB in later life. These associations remained robust and largely strengthened after accounting for respondents’ background and health-related factors. Education and locational characteristics substantially influenced the associations between social support and PWB.

Conclusion:

These findings suggest that especially in terms of PWB, aspects of meaningful social support networks are critical elements in later life. Strengthening opportunities for closer interpersonal relations with older persons may enhance their mental health, quality of life and independence.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Razak M. Gyasi, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University, 8 Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong (SAR), China. Phone: +85251339954. Fax: +85224560737. Email: RGyasi@LN.hk/razak.mgyasi@gmail.com.

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