Social support and risk-adjusted mortality in a frail older population.
ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that social support is an important predictor of mortality in a frail older population receiving formal long-term care services.
The analysis is based on 3138 individuals enrolled in 28 Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Information about the enrollees is obtained from dataPACE. Semiparametric Cox proportional hazards models are estimated to assess the importance of individual risk factors, program effect, and social support.
The introduction of the social support variables into the mortality model containing the sociodemographic, health needs, and the PACE-site indicator variables results in a significant improvement of the overall model fit. Several social support variables are statistically significant predictors of mortality. Controlling for all participant and caregiver characteristics, participants whose caregiver is a spouse have a significantly lower risk of mortality (hazard ratio = 0.63) compared with those whose caregiver is not a spouse. Furthermore, caregivers' assistance with meals confers a significantly lower risk of morality (hazard ratio = 0.66) compared with no assistance with meals.
This study shows that certain aspects of informal caregiving are important factors enhancing survival in a population of frail, nursing home-certifiable individuals enrolled in a health program that already provides extensive services, including personal care, chores, and meals. Further research to better differentiate between the affective versus the instrumental dimensions of social support is needed to guide programs on how to balance the use of resources to provide both the necessary formal services and the support for the informal caregivers.
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ABSTRACT: The quality and quantity of individuals' social relationships has been linked not only to mental health but also to both morbidity and mortality. This meta-analytic review was conducted to determine the extent to which social relationships influence risk for mortality, which aspects of social relationships are most highly predictive, and which factors may moderate the risk. Data were extracted on several participant characteristics, including cause of mortality, initial health status, and pre-existing health conditions, as well as on study characteristics, including length of follow-up and type of assessment of social relationships. Across 148 studies (308,849 participants), the random effects weighted average effect size was OR = 1.50 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.59), indicating a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. This finding remained consistent across age, sex, initial health status, cause of death, and follow-up period. Significant differences were found across the type of social measurement evaluated (p<0.001); the association was strongest for complex measures of social integration (OR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.63 to 2.23) and lowest for binary indicators of residential status (living alone versus with others) (OR = 1.19; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.44). The influence of social relationships on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.PLoS Medicine 07/2010; 7(7):e1000316. · 16.27 Impact Factor