Social linkages to biological markers of health among the elderly

Maxine Weinstein, Noreen Goldman, Allison Hedley, Lin Yu-Hsuan, Teresa Seeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

The social environment and exposure to life challenge affect a person's physical and emotional well-being. The present research uses a population-based study of the elderly in Taiwan to elaborate the cumulative physiological costs - as reflected in biological markers of risk factors known to have adverse consequences for health - of challenge and unfavourable position in social hierarchies and networks. Overall, biological markers of risk among the elderly are similar in Taiwan and the United States. However, male and female Taiwanese elderly are at lower risk for illness associated with indicators of DHEA-S, while women are at higher risk for illness associated with elevated blood pressure, and men at lower risk for illness associated with total/HDL cholesterol, and glycosylated haemoglobin. There are strong and statistically significant effects of position in social hierarchy (education) and challenge (recent widowhood and a perception of high demands) on an index of cumulative risk (allostatic load). Membership in social networks and participation in social activities have expected, but not statistically discernible, effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-453
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Volume35
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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