From Social Integration to Social Isolation: The Relationship Between Social Network Types and Perceived Availability of Social Support in a National Sample of Older Canadians [2017]

It is well-documented that social isolation is detrimental to health and well-being. What is less clear is what types of social networks allow older adults to get the social support they need to promote health and well-being. In this study, we identified social network types in a national sample of older Canadians and explored whether they are associated with perceived availability of different types of social support (affectionate, emotional, or tangible, and positive social interactions). Data were drawn from the baseline questionnaire of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging for participants aged 65–85 (unweighted n = 8,782). Cluster analyses revealed six social network groups. Social support generally declined as social networks became more restricted; however, different patterns of social support availability emerged for different social network groups. These findings suggest that certain types of social networks place older adults at risk of not having met specific social support needs.

Oksana Harasemiw, Nancy Newall, Shahin Shooshtari, Corey Mackenzie, Verena Menec
Research on Aging, Vol 40, Issue 8, 2018