Structural social support and cardiovascular disease risk factors in Hispanic/Latino adults with diabetes: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)

Ethn Health. 2018 Oct;23(7):737-751. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2017.1294660. Epub 2017 Feb 23.


Objective(s): Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have yielded inconsistent findings on the associations of social support networks with cardiovascular health in Hispanic/Latino adults with diabetes. We examined the cross-sectional associations of structural social support and traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in a diverse sample of Hispanic/Latino adults with diabetes.

Research design and methods: This analysis included 2994 adult participants ages 18-74 with diabetes from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL - 2008-2011). Select items from the Social Network Inventory (SNI) were used to assess indices of structural social support, i.e. network size (number of children, parents, and in-laws) and frequency of familial contact. Standardized methods were used to measure abdominal obesity, BMI, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking status. Multivariate regression was used to examine associations of structural support with individual CVD risk factors with demographics, acculturation, physical health, and psychological ill-being (depressive symptoms and anxiety) included as covariates.

Results: There were no significant cross-sectional associations of structural support indices with abdominal obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or smoking status. There was a marginally significant (OR: 1.05; 95%CI 0.99-1.11) trend toward higher odds of obesity in participants reporting a larger family unit (including children, parents, and in-laws) and those with closer ties with extended family relatives (OR: 1.04; 95%CI 0.99-1.09).

Conclusions: Structural social support was marginally associated with higher odds of obesity in Hispanic/Latino adults with diabetes. Alternate forms of social support (e.g. healthcare professionals, friends, peers) should be further explored as potential markers of cardiac risk in Hispanics/Latinos with diabetes.

Keywords: Diabetes; Hispanics/Latinos; cardiovascular disease risk factors; social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support*
  • United States / epidemiology