The relationship between social capital and self-rated health in a Japanese population: a multilevel analysis

Yuri Hibino, Jiro Takaki, Keiki Ogino, Yasuhiro Kambayashi, Yoshiaki Hitomi, Aki Shibata, Hiroyuki Nakamura
Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 2012, 17 (1): 44-52

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to use a multilevel analysis to examine whether cognitive and structural dimensions of regional social capital were associated with individual health outcomes after adjusting for compositional factors.

METHODS: Data from the Japanese General Social Surveys project, a nationwide study with a two-stage stratified random sampling method conducted in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006, were aggregated and used for the multilevel analysis (n = 11,702). We examined whether both cognitive and structural aspects of social capital (social trust, neighborhood safety, and social participation) were associated with the self-rated health (SRH) of residents from 118 regions after adjustment for compositional factors.

RESULTS: Social trust and existing neighborhood safety were negatively associated with poor SRH, whereas the effect of social participation was not significant. Social trust was still negatively associated with poor SRH after adjusting for individual demographic factors and socioeconomic status (p = 0.001). In contrast, neighborhood safety and social participation did not reach significance after adjusting for compositional factors.

CONCLUSION: Based on the results of this study, social trust was associated with health outcomes. Further study is needed to clarify the path linking regional trust in others to individual health outcomes in the Japanese population.

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