Social network type and morale in old age

H Litwin
Gerontologist 2001, 41 (4): 516-24

PURPOSE: The aim of this research was to derive network types among an elderly population and to examine the relationship of network type to morale.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Secondary analysis of data compiled by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (n = 2,079) was employed, and network types were derived through K-means cluster analysis. Respondents' morale scores were regressed on network types, controlling for background and health variables.

RESULTS: Five network types were derived. Respondents in diverse or friends networks reported the highest morale; those in exclusively family or restricted networks had the lowest. Multivariate regression analysis underscored that certain network types were second among the study variables in predicting respondents' morale, preceded only by disability level (Adjusted R(2) =.41).

IMPLICATIONS: Classification of network types allows consideration of the interpersonal environments of older people in relation to outcomes of interest. The relative effects on morale of elective versus obligated social ties, evident in the current analysis, is a case in point.

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