Gender differences in the relationship between social network support and mortality: a longitudinal study of an elderly cohort

Soc Sci Med. 1995 Oct;41(7):935-47. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)00404-h.


Despite well-recognized gender differences in patterns of social network support, few studies have explored whether the pathways by which social support affects mortality risk differ for men and women. In a 15-year follow-up study of elderly HMO members, we found that network size affected men's mortality risk indirectly, through their health status, while no such indirect effect was found for women. The data also suggested that network size had a direct protective effect on mortality risk for both men and women, with men gaining protection at a lower level of network size than women. These findings confirm the need for a gender-specific approach to further research on this subject, and suggest the need to measure variables that capture the different meaning and value of social network participation for men and women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Maintenance Organizations / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Oregon
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Survival Rate