Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 123–131 | Cite as

Social network and cognitive functioning in old age

Self-efficacy as a mediator?
  • Sonja Fankhauser
  • Andreas Maercker
  • Simon ForstmeierEmail author
Beiträge zum Themenschwerpunkt


This study investigated self-efficacy (self-perceived and rated by an informant) as a mediator of the relationship between social network variables (including network size, frequency of social contacts, satisfaction with social contacts and social support) and cognitive impairment. Participants were 189 adults with a mean age of 75 years, 32 of whom suffered from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 39 from early stage Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 118 who had no cognitive impairment. Binary logistic regression and linear regression models were used to assess the association between the predictor variables and cognitive impairment, controlling for several confounders. Network size was significantly associated with the cognitive status (mini mental status examination; β = 0.15, p < 0.05) and with odds of cognitive impairment (odds ratio [OR]: 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.93–0.99). General self-efficacy rated by the informant mediated this relationship in both analyses. Possible underlying mechanisms, including neuroendocrine reactivity and health behavior are discussed.


Self-efficacy Social network Mild cognitive impairment Alzheimer’s disease Cognitive functioning 

Soziales Netzwerk und kognitive Fähigkeiten im Alter

Selbstwirksamkeit als ein Mediator?


In dieser Studie wurde die Selbstwirksamkeit (selbst erlebt und bewertet von einem Informanten) als ein Mediator in der Beziehung zwischen sozialen Netzwerkvariablen (einschließlich Netzwerkgröße, Häufigkeit sozialer Kontakte, Zufriedenheit mit sozialen Kontakten und soziale Unterstützung) und kognitiven Störungen untersucht. Insgesamt 189 Erwachsene (mittleres Alter: 75 Jahre) nahmen an der Studie teil. Hiervon litten 32 unter einer leichten kognitiven Störung („mild cognitive impairment“, MCI), 39 befanden sich im Frühstadium einer Alzheimer-Erkrankung (AD) und 118 hatten keine kognitive Störung. Binäre logistische sowie lineare Regressionsmodelle wurden verwendet, um den Zusammenhang zwischen den Prädiktorvariablen und der kognitiven Störung zu beurteilen, wobei mehrere Störvariablen kontrolliert wurden. Die Netzwerkgröße war signifikant mit dem kognitiven Status (Mini-mental-Status-Untersuchung; β = 0,15; p < 0,05) und mit der Wahrscheinlichkeit für eine kognitive Störung (Odds-Ratio [OR] 0,96; 95% Konfidenzintervall [CI] 0,93–0,99) assoziiert. Die von dem Informanten bewertete allgemeine Selbstwirksamkeit vermittelte diese Beziehung in beiden Analysen. Mögliche zugrundeliegende Mechanismen, einschließlich neuroendokrine Reaktivität und Gesundheitsverhalten, werden diskutiert.


Selbstwirksamkeit Soziales Netzwerk Leichte kognitive Störung Morbus Alzheimer Kognitive Fähigkeiten 



This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF, the Velux Foundation, Tropos Foundation, KurtFries Foundation, and the Swiss Alzheimer’s Association.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interests

S. Fankhauser, A. Maercker and S. Forstmeier declare that they have no competing interests.

All studies described in this article were carried out with the approval of the responsible ethics committee and in accordance with national law and the Helsinki Declaration from 1964 (in its present revised form). Informed consent was obtained from all participants in studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Privatklinik MeiringenMeiringenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Developmental Psychology, Faculty IIUniversity of SiegenSiegenGermany

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