Social network characteristics associated with health promoting behaviors among Latinos

Health Psychol. 2014 Jun;33(6):544-53. doi: 10.1037/hea0000092.


Objective: This study examined the relationship between social network characteristics and health promoting behaviors (having a routine medical check-up, consuming no alcohol, consuming no fast food, and meeting recommendations for leisure-time physical activity and sleep duration) among Latinos to identify potential targets for behavioral interventions.

Method: Personal network characteristics and health behavior data were collected from a community sample of 393 adult Latinos (73% women) in San Diego County, California. Network characteristics consisted of size and composition. Network size was calculated by the number of alters listed on a name generator questionnaire eliciting people with whom respondents discussed personal issues. Network composition variables were the proportion of Latinos, Spanish-speakers, females, family, and friends listed in the name generator. Additional network composition variables included marital status and the number of adults or children in the household.

Results: Network members were predominately Latinos (95%), Spanish-speakers (80%), females (64%), and family (55%). In multivariate logistic regression analyses, gender moderated the relationship between network composition, but not size, and a health behavior. Married women were more likely to have had a routine medical check-up than married men. For both men and women, having a larger network was associated with meeting the recommendation for leisure-time physical activity.

Conclusion: Few social network characteristics were significantly associated with health promoting behaviors, suggesting a need to examine other aspects of social relationships that may influence health behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status / ethnology
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult