Social network properties and self-rated health in later life: Comparisons from the Korean social life, health, and aging project and the national social life, health and aging project

Yoosik Youm, Edward O. Laumann, Kenneth F. Ferraro, Linda J. Waite, Hyeon Chang Kim, Yeong Ran Park, Sang Hui Chu, Won Tak Joo, Jin A. Lee

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Background: This paper has two objectives. Firstly, it provides an overview of the social network module, data collection procedures, and measurement of ego-centric and complete-network properties in the Korean Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (KSHAP). Secondly, it directly compares the KSHAP structure and results to the ego-centric network structure and results of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), which conducted in-home interviews with 3,005 persons 57 to 85 years of age in the United States. Methods: The structure of the complete social network of 814 KSHAP respondents living in Township K was measured and examined at two levels of networks. Ego-centric network properties include network size, composition, volume of contact with network members, density, and bridging potential. Complete-network properties are degree centrality, closeness centrality, betweenness centrality, and brokerage role. Results: We found that KSHAP respondents with a smaller number of social network members were more likely to be older and tended to have poorer self-rated health. Compared to the NSHAP, the KSHAP respondents maintained a smaller network size with a greater network density among their members and lower bridging potential. Further analysis of the complete network properties of KSHAP respondents revealed that more brokerage roles inside the same neighborhood (Ri) were significantly associated with better self-rated health. Socially isolated respondents identified by network components had the worst self-rated health. Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the importance of social network analysis for the study of older adults' health status in Korea. The study also highlights the importance of complete-network data and its ability to reveal mechanisms beyond ego-centric network data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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