Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that social integration, measured as number of social roles, is associated with less age-related loss of lung function, an important marker of health and longevity. We also investigated possible psychological factors through which social integration might influence lung health.
Methods: Data were analyzed from the Health and Retirement Study (ages 52-94, n = 4,224).
Results and conclusions: Each additional social role reported at baseline was associated with less of a decline in lung function between baseline and the follow-up assessment four years later. The association withstood controls for demographics, weight, and height and was mediated by more positive and less negative affect and lower rates of cigarette smoking and more physical activity. Roles were mostly substitutable, with both high (spouse, parent, friends, relatives) and low (employee, religious service attendee, volunteer, members of other groups) intimacy roles independently contributing to less age-related decline in lung function. (PsycINFO Database Record
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