Wellbeing and social network characteristics in rural communities: findings from a cohort in social housing in Cornwall, United Kingdom

Long, E. , Stevens, S., Topciu, R., Williams, A. J., Taylor, T. J. and Morrissey, K. (2022) Wellbeing and social network characteristics in rural communities: findings from a cohort in social housing in Cornwall, United Kingdom. International Journal of Community Well-Being, 5(3), pp. 559-570. (doi: 10.1007/s42413-022-00167-5) (PMID:35611238) (PMCID:PMC9118807)

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Abstract

The mental wellbeing of those living in resource poor and rural localities is a public health priority. Despite evidence of a link between social networks and mental wellbeing, little is known about this relationship in the context of rural and resource poor environments. The current study uses novel social network methodology to investigate the extent to which social network size and composition is related to mental wellbeing in a social housing community in rural England. Data come from 88 individuals living in social housing in Cornwall. These participants are part of a larger study of 329 social housing households surveyed in 2017 and 2018. Mental wellbeing was measured by the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS). A series of multivariable linear regression models were used to test associations between social network characteristics and mental wellbeing. Social network size was significantly associated with the SWEMWBS (b = 0.39, p < 0.01), such that individuals with larger networks reported better mental wellbeing, but after controlling for community social cohesion, this effect dissipated. Neither gender composition or talking with network members about health and wellbeing were significantly associated with the SWEMWBS. Findings suggest that both the quantity of social connections and perceptions of community cohesion are moderately associated with mental wellbeing in rural and resource poor localities. As such, efforts to improve mental wellbeing would benefit from targeting multiple aspects of social relationships, rather than focusing solely on increasing the size of individuals’ social networks.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The Smartline project (www.smartline.org.uk, based in Cornwall, UK) received £6,930,810 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (Grant Numbers 05R16P00305, 05R18P02819) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014–2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding. The Smartline project is also funded by the South West Academic Health Science Network, Cornwall Council, and Her Majesty (HM) Government, and is a partnership between University of Exeter, Coastline Housing, Volunteer Cornwall, Cornwall Council, and the South West Academic Health Science Network. The project funders had no involvement in the conduct of the research or preparation of the article. EL is also supported by: MRC Skills Development Fellowship Award (MR/S015078/1), MC-UU-12017/11; SPHSU11;MC_UU_12017/14; SPHSU14.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Long, Dr Emily
Authors: Long, E., Stevens, S., Topciu, R., Williams, A. J., Taylor, T. J., and Morrissey, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:International Journal of Community Well-Being
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:2524-5295
ISSN (Online):2524-5309
Published Online:19 May 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Community Well-Being 5(3): 559-570
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048231Complexity in healthSharon SimpsonMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/1HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU18HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048231Complexity in healthSharon SimpsonChief Scientist Office (CSO)SPHSU16HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
302716MRC Skills Development Fellowship ProgrammeJill PellMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/S015078/1S&PS - Administration
3048231Relationships and healthKirstin MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/3HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit