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Does socioeconomic status affect the association of social relationships and health? A moderator analysis

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Author(s): Vonneilich Nico | Jöckel Karl-Heinz | Erbel Raimund | Klein Jens | Dragano Nico | Weyers Simone | Moebus Susanne | Siegrist Johannes | von dem Knesebeck Olaf

Journal: International Journal for Equity in Health
ISSN 1475-9276

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 43;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Social relations have repeatedly been found to be an important determinant of health. However, it is unclear whether the association between social relations and health is consistent throughout different status groups. It is likely that health effects of social relations vary in different status groups, as stated in the hypothesis of differential vulnerability. In this analysis we explore whether socioeconomic status (SES) moderates the association between social relations and health. Methods In the baseline examination of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall study, conducted in a dense populated Western German region (N = 4,814, response rate 56%), SES was measured by income and education. Social relations were classified by using both structural as well as functional measures. The Social Integration Index was used as a structural measure, whilst functional aspects were assessed by emotional and instrumental support. Health was indicated by self-rated health (1 item) and a short version of the CES-D scale measuring the frequency of depressive symptoms. Based on logistic regression models we calculated the relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) which indicates existing moderator effects. Results Our findings show highest odds ratios (ORs) for both poor self-rated health and more frequent depressive symptoms when respondents have a low SES as well as inappropriate social relations. For example, respondents with low income and a low level of social integration have an OR for a high depression score of 2.85 (95% CI 2.32-4.49), compared to an OR of 1.44 (95% CI 1.12-1.86) amongst those with a low income but a high level of social integration and an OR of 1.72 (95% CI 1.45-2.03) amongst respondents with high income but a low level of social integration. As reference group those reporting high income and a high level of social integration were used. Conclusions The analyses indicate that the association of social relations and subjective health differs across SES groups as we find moderating effects of SES. However, results are inconsistent as nearly all RERI scores are positive but do not reach a significant level. Also moderating effects vary between women and men and depending on the indicators of SES and social relations used. Thus, the hypothesis of differential vulnerability can only partially be supported. In terms of practical implications, psychosocial and health interventions aiming towards the enhancement of social relations should especially consider the situation of the socially deprived.
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