OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to examine the correlation between interactions of younger elderly women with close non-family friends and neighbors and their health-related QOL, in order to expand understanding of social relationships of the elderly and their health perceptions. METHODOLOGY: Questionnaires were mailed to 1,000 randomly selected women aged 65 to 74 living in City A (population: 180,000; elderly: 14.9%), a bed town community outside a metropolitan area. From 602 valid replies, analysis was limited to self-reports from 525 women who were independent in daily life and interacted with close non-family friends and neighbors. For this purpose the Daily Mutual Caring Interactions (DMCI) scale was applied--its items indicate aims and reciprocal acts in interactions of younger elderly women with close non-family friends and neighbors (Cronbach's alpha = 0.85)--and the Japanese Version SF-36v2, a widely used measure of health-related QOL (Cronbach's alpha = 0.93). Structural equation modeling analysis examined the four constructs of DMCI and their correlations with the physical and psychological health-related components of SF-36v2. RESULTS: The conceived meaning of a correlation among DMCI constructs in the final model (GFI = 0.930, RMSEA = 0.045) is that there is "an appropriate distance between individuals" by holding "mutual concern for each other's daily lives" and "sympathetic mutual understanding", and through these mutual actions one is able to "confirm one's own identity." An extremely weak positive correlation was found between "sympathetic mutual understanding" and the physical and psychological components of SF-36v2. However, no significant correlations were found for "confirmation of one's own identity," the objective of interaction, with either physical or psychological components. An additional finding was an extremely strong correlation between SF-36v2 physical and psychological components. CONCLUSION: From our study of the interactions of younger elderly women with close non-family friends and neighbors and their health-related QOL, there are no clear direct links that would support the idea that social relations enhance physical or psychological health perceptions. Even so, because the model fits the data for younger elderly women aware of irreversible changes brought on by aging and irrespective of their degree of perceived health, it is possible that interactions with non-family friends and neighbors help these women to share an understanding of existing conditions and live their lives actively and positively. From the perspective of the QOL of the elderly, this suggests the necessity for further discussion about effects of supporting elderly people's own health enhancement efforts that focus on the social aspects of daily life.
|Number of pages
|[Nippon kōshū eisei zasshi] Japanese journal of public health
|Published - 2007