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Title: Social capital and health among older adults in South Africa
Authors: Ramlagan, Shandir
Peltzer, Karl
Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya
Mahidol University. ASEAN Institute for Health Development
Keywords: Social capital;Self-reported health;Depressive symptoms;Cognitive functioning;Physical inactivity;Older adults;South Africa
Issue Date: 2013
Citation: BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:100
Abstract: Background: Little is known about social capital and health among older adults in South Africa. This study investigates the association between social capital and several health variables, namely: self-rated health, depressive symptoms, cognitive functioning and physical inactivity, among older South Africans. Methods: We conducted a national population-based cross-sectional study with a national probability sample of 3840 individuals aged 50 years or older who participated in the Study of Global Ageing and Adults Health (SAGE wave 1) in 2008 in South Africa. Measures included socio-demographic characteristics, health variables, cognitive functioning and physical activity. Social capital was assessed with six components, namely: marital status, social action, sociability, trust and solidarity, safety, and civic engagement. Results: The social capital assessment revealed that 56% of the respondents were married or cohabiting, 45% reported low (0) social action, 42% reported medium (2–3) sociability, 43% reported high (2) trust and solidarity, 50% reported high (2–4) civic engagement and 42% reported medium (6) psychological resources. In multivariate analysis, self-reported good health was associated with younger age, having secondary education and higher social capital (being married or cohabiting, high trust and solidarity and greater psychological resources). Depressive symptoms were associated with lower social capital (not being married or cohabiting, lack of high trust and solidarity and low psychological resources). Better cognitive functioning was associated with younger age, higher educational level, greater wealth and higher social capital (being married or cohabiting, high trust and solidarity, lack of safety, higher civic engagement and greater psychological resources). Physical inactivity was associated with older age and lower social capital (lower social action, lack of safety, lower civic engagement and poorer psychological resources). Conclusions: Given the basis of these findings on cross sectional data and subsequent limitation, it was found that these study findings mimic the findings of many European and American studies. Social capital among the elderly generation in South Africa is imperative for better health.
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