Effect of social networks on 10 year survival in very old Australians: the Australian longitudinal study of aging

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Jul;59(7):574-9. doi: 10.1136/jech.2004.025429.


Study objectives: To examine if social networks with children, relatives, friends, and confidants predict survival in older Australians over 10 years after controlling for a range of demographic, health, and lifestyle variables.

Design: Prospective longitudinal cohort study (the Australian longitudinal study of aging)

Setting: Adelaide, South Australia.

Participants: 1477 persons aged 70 years or more living in the community and residential care facilities.

Main results: After controlling for a range of demographic, health, and lifestyle variables, greater networks with friends were protective against mortality in the 10 year follow up period. The hazard ratio for participants in the highest tertile of friends networks compared with participants in the lowest group was 0.78 (95%CI 0.65 to 0.92). A smaller effect of greater networks with confidants (hazard ratio = 0.84; 95%CI = 0.71 to 0.98) was seen. The effects of social networks with children and relatives were not significant with respect to survival over the following decade.

Conclusions: Survival time may be enhanced by strong social networks. Among older Australians, these may be important in lengthening survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Family
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Life Style
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Australia