Social Relationships and Health Behavior Across Life Course

Annu Rev Sociol. 2010 Aug 1:36:139-157. doi: 10.1146/annurev-soc-070308-120011.


Sociological theory and research point to the importance of social relationships in affecting health behavior. This work tends to focus on specific stages of the life course, with a division between research on childhood/adolescent and adult populations. Yet recent advances demonstrate that early life course experiences shape health outcomes well into adulthood. We synthesize disparate bodies of research on social ties and health behavior throughout the life course, with attention to explaining how various social ties influence health behaviors at different life stages and how these processes accumulate and reverberate throughout the life course.