Do Our Friends and Relatives Help Us Better Assess Our Health? Examining the Role of Social Networks in the Correspondence Between Self-Rated Health and Having Metabolic Syndrome

Laure Sabatier, Spencer Moore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

If individuals believe they are healthier than they actually are, they may feel less compelled to improve their health. This study aims to examine the importance of a person’s connections in the correspondence between a person’s self-reported health (SRH) and having metabolic syndrome (MetS). Participants of the Kingston Senior Women’s Study (n = 100, 65 years of age and older) completed a questionnaire on their social background, psychosocial conditions, health behaviors, and health. Participants also provided physiological measures and medical information. Health overestimation was defined as reporting high SRH yet being diagnosed with MetS. Logistic regression was used to examine whether a person’s social networks increased the odds of health overestimation. About a third reported a high SRH and had MetS (36%), that is, overestimated their health. Participants had more than four social network ties on average, with a maximum of six reported ties. When control variables were accounted for, participants with larger network size had lower odds of health overestimation (odds ratio [OR] = 0.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.26, 0.80]). Women with larger social networks may have greater access to information about their own health, leading possibly to more accurate assessments. Such information may be conveyed via feedback from ties or via a more representative perception of what constitutes good health when self-assessing one’s health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • health congruence
  • metabolic syndrome
  • self-reported health
  • senior women
  • social network

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