Background: The importance of social network in mortality among older adults has been acknowledged. However, existing studies typically overlook the interplay among social network indicators, and seldom consider the change in social network over time. We take a person-centered approach to identify transitions between social network profiles, and examine the linkage of such transitions with subsequent mortality risk.
Methods: Data came from 2738 older Singaporeans enrolled in a longitudinal study. Latent transition analysis examined nine social network indicators assessed at two time points, two years apart to reveal the corresponding transitions between social network profiles. Adjusted Cox regression then associated the identified transitions with all-cause mortality risk in the subsequent four years.
Results: We observed three diverse social network profiles (that featured diversified social interaction and involved both household and non-household members) and three relatively restricted social network profiles (that focused on household or non-household members). Compared to sustained diverse profiles over time, sustained restricted profiles or a transition from diverse to restricted profiles entailed increased mortality risk. The mortality risk following a restricted-to-diverse profile transition could be as low as that associated with sustained diverse profiles.
Conclusions: Dynamics of social network profiles have implications for mortality risk in later life. To promote longevity, initiatives are needed to help older people to maintain or shift to diverse social network profiles.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Health(social science)
- History and Philosophy of Science
- Social network
- Latent transition analysis
- Older adults