Objectives: This study examined whether or not direct social support is associated with long-term health among middle-aged and older adults with diabetes mellitus.
Method: Direct social support was assessed at baseline (2003) for 1,099 adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus from the Health and Retirement Study. Self-reported health status was examined at baseline and in 4 biennial survey waves (2003-2010). A series of ordinal logistic regression models examined whether or not the 7-item Diabetes Care Profile scale was associated with a subsequent change in health status over time. Additional analyses examined whether or not individual components of direct social support were associated with health status change.
Results: After adjusting for baseline covariates, greater direct social support as measured by the Diabetes Care Profile was associated with improved health outcomes over time; however, this trend was not significant (p = .06). The direct social support measures that were associated with improved health over follow-up were support for taking medicines (odds ratio [OR] = 1.22), physical activity (OR = 1.26), and going to health care providers (OR = 1.22; all p < .05).
Discussion: Interventions that specifically target improving specific aspects of diabetes social support may be more effective in improving long-term health than less targeted efforts.
Keywords: Diabetes; Regimen; Self-rated health; Social support..