Toni C. Antonucci photo

Social Relations, Aging and Health: Competing Theories and Emerging Complexities - Kabo Administrative Supplement

a MiCDA Research Project Description

Investigators: Toni C. Antonucci, Felichism W. Kabo

Funding: National Institute on Aging, 2016-2018 (3 R01 AG 045423 04 S1)

Social relations are widely recognized to influence health and to impact racial health disparities. Despite theoretical advancements and methodological innovations, we still know very little about how the links between individuals and social roles are associated with racial health disparities. The proposed research addresses these issues by extending the metro-Detroit based 1992-2015 Social Relations, Age and Health Study (SRS) to study how connections to social roles impact individuals? health. Systems science such as social network analysis can untangle the links between social structure, individuals? health, and racial health disparities. Analyzing dynamic social network structure could reveal racial differences in how social role relations impact health disparities, and potentially inform network-based interventions aimed at improving health outcomes in older Americans and reducing health disparities.
The project studies how social roles impact individuals? health, which entails network analysis of individuals and social roles in the 2015 SRS Wave 3. Role theory focuses on the rights and duties embedded within social relationships and has made significant contributions to research on health and social networks (Burnette, 1999; Verbrugge, 1983). Roles shape social interactions and exchanges among individuals. They are key facilitators of social support and exchange of other resources critical to individual health and health disparities. We propose to apply unique social network analysis to study how social relations impact individuals? health by constructing networks of persons and their social roles. The uniqueness of this approach is that it captures how social roles relate to health and racial health disparities at the population level. Specifically, we propose to:
1) Program and develop networks-specific scripts in Python, R, and SQL. Novel, exploratory work using manually generated two-mode person-role networks for 13 family triads (N = 39) indicated that person-role networks have positive and negative impacts on health. The current project extends this work by proposing to construct two-mode networks for larger samples through the use of Python, R and SQL scripts.
2) Use Python, R and SQL scripts to generate two-mode networks for P+C individuals in the SRS Wave 3. We will study the structure of social networks by analyzing patterns of connections between persons and social roles, and then build on this to examine how differences across person-role networks shape individual health and health disparities.
Innovation. We propose methodological (multiple perspective network data, programming and development of networks-specific scripts, and generation of two-mode person-role networks) innovations to clarify recent complex and contradictory findings concerning health and social relations.
Impact. Findings will advance scholarship on the link from social role relations to health, the research capacity to generate population-level person-role networks, and programs designed to decrease health disparities.

Research Signature Themes:

Health and well-being in later life: Life Course Determinants
Health and well-being in later life