OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations between components of social networks and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in community-dwelling old adults in urban areas in China.
STUDY DESIGN: Data from the 4th National Household Health Survey (NHHS) in China, conducted in 2008, were used. HRQoL of respondents aged ≥15 years was assessed using EQ-5D in the NHHS.
METHODS: The sample for the current analysis included 9833 old adults aged ≥60 years. Multiple linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between indicators of social network and HRQoL.
RESULTS: Approximately 6% of the respondents saw their children once a year or less, and approximately 1% reported that they had no children. Thirteen percent of the sample seldom contacted their neighbours and seldom met with relatives or friends; approximately 62% seldom attended social gatherings. The five dimensions of HRQoL (mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression) were reported to be moderate or severe in 14.5%, 9.4%, 12.6%, 18.3% and 9.3% of the sample, respectively. The mean visual analogue scale (VAS) score and EQ-5D index using the time trade-off method was 70.96 [standard deviation (SD) 14.79] and 0.869 (SD 0.163), respectively. After adjusting for potential confounding variables, old adults with weaker social networks were more likely to report problems on EQ-5D dimensions, lower VAS scores and lower EQ-5D indexes.
CONCLUSIONS: For old adults living in urban communities in China, increased social participation has a positive effect on various dimensions of HRQoL. There is a need for policy considerations that will improve integration of community-level public resources in order to encourage frequent social interaction among old adults, and promote health and social care as a whole.