The relationship between gender, social support, and health-related quality of life in a community-based study in Washington County, Maryland
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Men tend to report higher health-related quality of life (HRQOL) than women of the same age, despite higher mortality rates and lower life expectancy. Social support is one factor related to HRQOL that may contribute to the observed gender difference. The purpose of this study was to determine the factors associated with HRQOL, especially levels of social support, and variation by gender.
Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze data from 4,498 men and 6,948 women participating in an ongoing community-based cohort study in Washington County, Maryland (CLUE-II).
The results showed that men reported significantly better HRQOL than women. Men reported having higher levels of social support than women, but the magnitude of the association with HRQOL was similar. Having two or less close friends was associated with a statistically significant increase in the odds of reporting poorer HRQOL compared to having 10 or more close friends among both genders (men: OR = 1.49; women: OR = 1.53). Differences in the level of social support did not explain the gender difference in HRQOL.
Our findings show that social support is an important correlate of HRQOL for both men and women. However, the gender differences in HRQOL are not explained by social support or the other factors examined.
- Achat, H., Kawachi, I., Levine, S., Berkey, C., Coakley, E., & Colditz, G. A. (1998). Social networks, stress and health-related quality of life. Quality of Life Research, 7, 735–750. CrossRef
- Arber S., & Cooper H. (1999) Gender differences in health in later life: the new paradox? Social Science & Medicine, 48, 61–76. CrossRef
- Baxter, J., Shetterly, S., Eby, C., Mason, L., Cortese, C. F., & Hamman, R. F. (1998). Social network factors associated with perceived quality of life. Journal of Aging and Health, 10, 287–310. CrossRef
- Benyamini, Y., & Idler, E. L. (1999). Community studies reporting association between self-rated health and mortality. Research on Aging, 21, 392–401. CrossRef
- Benyamini, Y., Leventhal, E. A., & Leventhal, H. (2000). Gender differences in processing information for making self-assessments of health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 354–364.
- Benyamini, Y., Blumstein, T., Lusky, A., & Modan, B. (2003). Gender differences in the self-rated health-mortality association: is it poor self-rated health that predicts mortality or excellent self-rated health that predicts survival? The Gerontologist, 43, 396–405.
- Berkman, L. F., & Glass, T. (2000). Social integration, social networks, social support and health. In: Berkman, L. F. & Kawachi, I. (Eds.), Social epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Borowiak, E., & Kostka, T. (2004). Predictors of quality of life in older people living at home and in institutions. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 16, 212–220.
- Bourque, P., Pushkar, D., Bonneville, L., & Beland, F. (2005). Contextual effects on life satisfaction of older men and women. Canadian Journal on Aging, 24, 31–44. CrossRef
- Cheng, S. H., & Chan, A. C. M. (2006). Social support and self-rated health revisited: Is there a gender difference in later life? Social Science & Medicine, 63, 118–122. CrossRef
- Clarke, P. J., Marshall, V. W., Ryff, C. D., & Rosenthal, C. J. (2000). Well-being in Canadian seniors: Findings from the Canadian study of health and aging. Canadian Journal on Aging, 19, 139–159.
- van Daalen, G., Sanders, K., & Willemsen, T. M. (2005). Sources of social support as predictors of health, psychological well-being and life satisfaction among Dutch male and female dual-earners. Women and Health, 41, 43–62. CrossRef
- Damian, J., Ruigomez, A., Pastor, V., & Martin-Moreno, J. M. (1999). Determinants of self assessed health among Spanish older people living at home. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 53, 412–416.
- Denton, M., & Walters, V. (1999). Gender differences in structural and behavioral determinants of health: an analysis of the social production of health. Social Science & Medicine, 48, 1221–1235. CrossRef
- Eng, P. M., Rimm, E. B., Fitzmaurice, G., & Kawachi, I. (2002). Social ties and change in social ties in relation to subsequent total and cause-specific mortality and coronary heart disease incidence in men. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155, 700–709. CrossRef
- Fontaine, K. R., Cheskin, L. J., & Barofsky, I. (1996). Health-related quality of life in obese persons seeking treatment. Journal of Family Practice, 43, 265–270.
- Goldberg, E. L., Van, N. P., & Comstock, G. W. (1985). Depressive symptoms, social networks and social support of elderly women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 121, 448–456.
- Guallar-Castillon, P., Sendino, A. R., Banegas, J. R., Lopez-Garcia, E., & Rodriguez-Artalejo, F. (2005). Differences in quality of life between women and men in the older population of Spain. Social Science & Medicine, 60, 1229–1240. CrossRef
- Guralnik, J. M., & Kaplan, G. A. (1989). Predictors of healthy aging: prospective evidence from the Alameda County study. American Journal of Public Health, 79, 703–708.
- Helzlsouer, K. J., Alberg, A. J., Huang, H. Y., Hoffman, S. C., Strickland, P. T., Brock, J. W., Burse, V. W., Needham, L. L., Bell, D. A., Lavigne, J. A., Yager, J. D., & Comstock, G. W. (1999). Serum concentrations of organochlorine compounds and the subsequent development of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 8, 525–532.
- Idler, E. L., & Benyamini, Y. (1997). Self-rated health and mortality: a review of twenty-seven community studies. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38, 21–37. CrossRef
- Idler, E. L., Hudson, S. V., & Leventhal, H. (1999). The meanings of self-ratings of health. Research on Aging, 21, 458–476. CrossRef
- Kawachi, I., & Berkman, L. F. (2001). Social ties and mental health. Journal of Urban Health, 78, 458–467.
- Keyes, C. L., Michalec, M. A., Kobau, R., Zahran, H., Zack, M. M., & Simoes, E. J. (2005). Social support and health-related quality of life among older adults - Missouri, 2000. MMWR Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 54, 433–437.
- Kornblith, A. B., & Holland, J. C. (1994). Handbook of measures for psychological, social, and physical function in cancer. Quality of life, Vol. 1, New York: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- Landerman, R. L., George, L. K., Campbell, R. T., & Blazer, D. G. (1989). Alternative models of the stress buffering hypothesis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 17, 625–642. CrossRef
- Litwin, H. (1998). Social network type and health status in a national sample of elderly Israelis. Social Science & Medicine, 46, 599–609. CrossRef
- Lopez-Garcia, E., Banegas, J. R., Perez-Regadera, A. G., Herruzo-Cabrera, R., & Rodriguez-Artalejo, F. (2005). Social network and health-related quality of life in older adults: A population-based study in Spain. Quality of Life Research, 14, 511–520. CrossRef
- Lorenz, K. A., Shapiro, M. F., Asch, S. M., Bozzette, S. A., & Hays, R. D. (2001). Associations of symptoms and health-related quality of life: findings from a national study of persons with HIV infection. Annals of Internal Medicine, 134, 854–860.
- Maxwell, C. J., & Hirdes, J. P. (1993). The prevalence of smoking and implications for quality of life among the community-based elderly. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 9, 338–345.
- Michael, Y. L., Colditz, G. A., Coakley, E., & Kawachi, I. (1999). Health behaviors, social networks, and healthy aging: Cross-sectional evidence from the Nurses’ Health Study. Quality of Life Research, 8, 711–722. CrossRef
- Okamoto, K., & Tanaka, Y. (2004). Gender difference in the relationship between social support and subjective health among elderly persons in Japan. Preventive Medicine, 38, 318–322. CrossRef
- Romans, S. E., Walton, V. A., McNoe, B., Herbison, G. P., & Mullen, P. E. (1993). Otago Women’s Health Survey 30-month follow-up. I: Onset patterns of non-psychotic psychiatric disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 733–738. CrossRef
- Romans-Clarkson, S., Walton, V., Herbison, G., & Mullen, P. (1990). Psychiatric morbidity among women in urban and rural New Zealand: psychosocial correlates. British Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 84–91. CrossRef
- Seeman, T. E. (2000). Health promoting effects of friends and family on health outcomes in older adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 14, 362–370.
- Seeman, T. E., Bruce, M. L., & McAvay, G. J. (1996). Social network characteristics and onset of ADL disability: MacArthur studies of successful aging. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 51, S191–S200.
- Simon, P., Lightstone, A., Zeng, Z., Wold, C., Fielding, J., & Davis, B. (2001) Health-related quality of life—Los Angeles County, California, 1999. MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 50, 556–559.
- Steverink, N., Westerhof, G. J., Bode, C., & Dittmann-Kohli, F. (2001). The personal experience of aging, individual resources, and subjective well-being. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 56, 364–373.
- Taylor, S. E., Klein, L. C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A., & Updegraff, J. A. (2000). Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight. Psychological Review, 107, 411–429. CrossRef
- Verbrugge, L. M. (1982). Sex differentials in health. Public Health Reports, 97, 417–437
- Verbrugge, L. M. (1983). Multiple roles and physical health of women and men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 16–30. CrossRef
- Yan, L. L., Daviglus, M. L., Liu, K., Pirzada, A., Garside, D. B., Schiffer, L., Dyer, A. R., & Greenland, P. (2004). BMI and health-related quality of life in adults 65 years and older. Obesity Research, 12, 69–76.
- The relationship between gender, social support, and health-related quality of life in a community-based study in Washington County, Maryland
Quality of Life Research
Volume 16, Issue 5 , pp 777-786
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Cohort studies
- Quality of life
- Social support
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Prevention and Research Center, Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine Mercy Medical Center, 227 St. Paul Place, 21202, Baltimore, MD, USA
- 2. Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA