Primary group size, social support, gender and future mental health status in a prospective study of people living in private households throughout Great Britain
Brugha, T. S. (Traolach S.), Weich, Scott, Singleton , Nicola, Lewis, Glyn, Bebbington, Paul, Jenkins, Rachel and Meltzer, Howard. (2005) Primary group size, social support, gender and future mental health status in a prospective study of people living in private households throughout Great Britain. Psychological Medicine, Vol.35 (No.5). pp. 705-714. ISSN 0033-2917
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291704003903
Background. Structural characteristics of social networks such as primary group size have received
less attention than measures of perceived social support. Previous research suggests that associations
between social network size and later common mental disorder status may differ according to
sex and initial mental state.
Method. Adults participating in the 2000 British National Household Survey of psychiatric
morbidity were randomly selected for follow-up 18 months later. The revised Clinical Interview
Schedule (CIS-R) and the Interview Measure of Social Relations (IMSR) were administered at
baseline and follow-up. Primary group size was defined as the total number of close relatives and
friends. A four-level scale of common mental disorder was modelled with ordinal logistic regression,
based on weighted data (n=2413).
Findings. After adjusting for confounders, a primary group size of three or less at time 1 predicted
worse mental health at time 2. This effect was greatest in men who were initially non-cases at
baseline (averaged odds 4.5) and in women who were initially cases at baseline (average odds 2.9).
Primary group size at time 2 was significantly predicted by level of common mental disorder at time
1 in women but not in men. Thus, confounding by baseline disorder does not explain risk of
developing poor mental health in socially isolated men.
Conclusion. This study replicates the strong effects of primary group size on future mental health
that emerge when men and women are studied separately and when subjects are categorized
according to baseline mental health status.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology|
|Divisions:||Faculty of Medicine > Warwick Medical School|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Social networks -- Psychological aspects, Mental health|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Psychological Medicine|
|Publisher:||Cambridge University Press|
|Official Date:||May 2005|
|Page Range:||pp. 705-714|
|Access rights to Published version:||Open Access|
Alloway, R. & Bebbington, P. (1987). The buffer theory of social
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