Positive and negative exchanges in social relationships as predictors of depression: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging

J Aging Health. 2011 Jun;23(4):607-28. doi: 10.1177/0898264310392992. Epub 2011 Jan 10.


Objective: To investigate whether the impact of negative and positive social exchanges on depression depends on relationship type among late middle age and older adults.

Method: Using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, baseline positive and negative exchanges with partners, children, other family and friends were linked to 2-year changes in depression on the eight-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.

Results: Positive and negative exchanges with partners and with children were independently associated with depression, adjusting for age, gender, wealth, and baseline depression. Negative but not positive exchanges with other family and with friends were associated with depression. The association between depression and positive/negative exchanges was weaker among the above 70s compared with those aged 50 to 70.

Discussion: Negative and positive exchanges with partners and children appear equally salient for depression onset although negative exchanges with family and friends contribute to depression whereas positive exchanges do not.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depression / psychology*
  • England
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires