Dynamic Longitudinal Associations Between Social Support and Cognitive Function: A Prospective Investigation of the Directionality of Associations

Jing Liao, GM Terrera, Jenny Head , Eric John Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the reciprocity of social support and cognitive function in late life.
Method: Analyses were based on three parallel repeat measures of social support and cognition from the Whitehall II cohort, providing 10-year follow-up of 6,863 participants (mean age 55.8 years, SD 6.0 at baseline). Alternative hypotheses were evaluated via four bivariate dual change score models: Full coupling model estimated mutual influences of social support and cognition on subsequent changes in each other; social causation model assumed a unidirectional influence from social support onto changes in cognition, while the opposite assumption was tested by health selection model; last, no coupling model suggested independent growth of these two sets of variables.
Results: A better cognition at the preceding stage was related to less positive changes in confiding support and less negative changes in practical support. In contrast, influences from social support on subsequent changes in cognition were not detected.
Discussion: This empirical study provides some evidence for the health selection mechanism, such that cognition modified changes in social support. The hypothesized neuroprotective effect of social support was not detectable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gerontology: Social Sciences
Early online date1 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2016

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