Is social participation associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors?

Ellaway, A. and Macintyre, S. (2007) Is social participation associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors? Social Science and Medicine, 64(7), pp. 1384-1391. (doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.11.022)

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There is increasing interest in the idea that social participation (operationalised as taking part in formal groups and associations) is an important determinant of health and survival. However, although a large body of literature exists which supports the notion that social contact is associated with good health, few studies have examined whether participation in specific groups and associations is related to specific risk factors, which are in turn linked to a major cause of death. In this paper, we focus on risk markers (BMI, waist–hip ratio, blood pressure, resting heart rate, anxiety and depression) for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which contributes around a third to all cause mortality in the UK. Using survey data (n=2334 individuals) from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study, we examine, separately by sex, cross-sectional associations between participation in groups and associations and CVD risk markers. There is no consistent patterning in the results. For some types of groups, there is a relationship between participation and risk factors in one sex but not the other, or better functioning on one health measure but worse in another. The most consistent results are found for psychological distress where, with the exception of church-related activities, participation in groups and associations is related to less distress (although more strongly in men than in women). Our findings do not therefore lend unequivocal support to the notion of social participation having a strong relationship with CVD risk factors at a cross-sectional level.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ellaway, Dr Anne and Macintyre, Professor Sally
Authors: Ellaway, A., and Macintyre, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine

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