Objectives: The objectives of this study were to (1) develop an empirical typology of social networks in older Koreans; and (2) examine its effect on physical and mental health. Method: A sample of 6900 community-dwelling older adults in South Korea was drawn from the 2014 Korean National Elderly Survey. Latent profile analysis (LPA) was conducted to derive social network types using eight common social network characteristics (marital status, living arrangement, the number and frequency of contact with close family/relatives, the number and frequency of contact with close friends, frequency of participation in social activities, and frequency of having visitors at home). The identified typologies were then regressed on self-rated health and depressive symptoms to explore the health risks posed by the group membership. Results: The LPA identified a model with five types of social network as being most optimal (BIC = 153,848.34, entropy =.90). The groups were named diverse/family (enriched networks with more engagement with family), diverse/friend (enriched networks with more engagement with friends), friend-focused (high engagement with friends), distant (structurally disengaged), and restricted (structurally engaged but disengaged in family/friends networks). A series of regression analyses showed that membership in the restricted type was associated with more health and mental health risks than all types of social networks except the distant type. Conclusion: Findings demonstrate the importance of family and friends as a source of social network and call attention to not only structural but also non-structural aspects of social isolation. Findings and implications are discussed in cultural contexts.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- older Koreans
- physical and mental health
- Social network typology