Aim: A social network, which is a set of people connected through socially meaningful relationships, is considered protective for neurocognitive disorders. Men and women have been found to have different opportunities for social participation and it is possible social networks do not form the same way. We hypothesized, male and female social networks would have different protective influences on cognitive function. Methods: The Korean Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a cohort study involving health examination and social network survey among adults aged ≥60 years in South Korea was conducted from 2014 to 2015. In total, 501 participants (208 men and 293 women) were included in the study. Through face-to-face sessions, participants were asked to answer questionnaires about general characteristics, depressive symptoms, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), social activity, cognitive function and social network variables (degree, betweenness, and closeness centrality and brokerage roles). Multiple linear regression models were used to investigate whether cognitive functions of men and women are differently influenced by their social networks, and path analysis was used to find the direct/indirect influence of social networks on cognitive function. Results: Out-degree centrality and social activity scores were positively correlated with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores only in women. In both genders, age and IADL scores were negatively associated with MMSE scores, while educational level was positively correlated. Conclusions: Cognitive function of women was influenced by social activity and the number of members they considered friends. This finding suggests the influence of social networks on cognitive function differ by gender. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2020; 20: 467–473.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea, the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2067165) and the Korean Mental Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HM15C0995).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Geriatrics and Gerontology