Network-based and cohesion-based social capital and variations in depressive symptoms among Taiwanese adults

Yun Hsuan Wu*, Kellee White, Nancy L. Fleischer, Bo Cai, Shing Chia Chen, Spencer Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Network- and cohesion-based social capital may play an important role in improving mental health. However, there is limited understanding about these relationships among adults in Taiwan. Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the association between individual-level network and cohesion-based social capital and depressive symptoms among a population-based sample of Taiwanese adults. Methods: Data were obtained from the 1997 Taiwan Social Change Survey (n = 2,598). The 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptom scores; ⩾16 represented high depressive symptoms. Network-based social capital was measured using a position generator. Two dimensions of cohesion-based social capital were assessed: cognitive (perceived neighborhood trust and reciprocity) and structural (local community participation and organizational participation). Multivariable log-binomial regression models, weighted to account for the complex sampling design and adjusted for confounders, estimated prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to examine the association between each social capital measure and depressive symptoms. Results: In this study, 29.6% of respondents were classified as having high depressive symptom scores. Higher scores of composite cognitive social capital (adjusted Prevalence Ratios (aPR) = 0.92, 95% CI = [0.90, 0.95]) and structural social capital (aPR = 0.80, 95% CI = [0.65, 0.99]) were associated with a lower likelihood of high depressive symptom scores after controlling for confounders. However, there was no association between network social capital and depressive symptoms. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the relationship between social capital and depressive symptoms in Taiwan differs according to the specific dimension of social capital assessed. Differentiating between network- and cohesion-based social capital merits greater attention to inform our understanding of building social capital to promote and improve mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-736
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • adults
  • depressive symptoms
  • social capital
  • Taiwan

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