Ejlskov, Linda2; Mortensen, Rikke N2; Overgaard, Charlotte2; Christensen, Line R B U2; Vardinghus-Nielsen, Henrik2; Kræmer, Stella R J2; Wissenberg, Mads2; Hansen, Steen M2; Torp-Pedersen, Christian4; Hansen, Claus D2
1 Department of Clinical Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Section of Surgery and Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Section of Surgery and Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
a population study with 5-year follow-up
BACKGROUND: The concept of social capital has received increasing attention as a determinant of population survival, but its significance is uncertain. We examined the importance of social capital on survival in a population study while focusing on gender differences. METHODS: We used data from a Danish regional health survey with a five-year follow-up period, 2007-2012 (n = 9288, 53.5% men, 46.5% women). We investigated the association between social capital and all-cause mortality, performing separate analyses on a composite measure as well as four specific dimensions of social capital while controlling for covariates. Analyses were performed with Cox proportional hazard models by which hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. RESULTS: For women, higher levels of social capital were associated with lower all-cause mortality regardless of age, socioeconomic status, health, and health behaviour (HR = 0.586, 95% CI = 0.421-0.816) while no such association was found for men (HR = 0.949, 95% CI = 0.816-1.104). Analysing the specific dimensions of social capital, higher levels of trust and social network were significantly associated with lower all-cause mortality in women (HR = 0.827, 95% CI = 0.750-0.913 and HR = 0.832, 95% CI = 0.729-0.949, respectively). For men, strong social networks were associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR = 1.132, 95% CI = 1.017-1.260). Civic engagement had a similar effect for both men (HR = 0.848, 95% CI = 0.722-0.997) and women (HR = 0.848, 95% CI = 0.630-1.140). CONCLUSIONS: We found differential effects of social capital in men compared to women. The predictive effects on all-cause mortality of four specific dimensions of social capital varied. Gender stratified analysis and the use of multiple indicators to measure social capital are thus warranted in future research.