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Social networks, social support and psychiatric symptoms: social determinants and associations within a multicultural community population

Smyth, N; Siriwardhana, C; Hotopf, M; Hatch, SL; (2014) Social networks, social support and psychiatric symptoms: social determinants and associations within a multicultural community population. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 10.1007/s00127-014-0943-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Purpose Little is known about how social networks and social support are distributed within diverse communities and how different types of each are associated with a range of psychiatric symptoms. This study aims to address such shortcomings by: (1) describing the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of social networks and social support in a multicultural population and (2) examining how each is associated with multiple mental health outcomes. Methods Data is drawn from the South East London Community Health Study; a cross-sectional study of 1,698 adults conducted between 2008 and 2010. Results The findings demonstrate variation in social networks and social support by socio-demographic factors. Ethnic minority groups reported larger family networks but less perceived instrumental support. Older individuals and migrant groups reported lower levels of particular network and support types. Individuals from lower socioeconomic groups tended to report less social networks and support across the indicators measured. Perceived emotional and instrumental support, family and friend network size emerged as protective factors for common mental disorder, personality dysfunction and psychotic experiences. In contrast, both social networks and social support appear less relevant for hazardous alcohol use. Conclusions The findings both confirm established knowledge that social networks and social support exert differential effects on mental health and furthermore suggest that the particular type of social support may be important. In contrast, different types of social network appear to impact upon poor mental health in a more uniform way. Future psychosocial strategies promoting mental health should consider which social groups are vulnerable to reduced social networks and poor social support and which diagnostic groups may benefit most.

Type: Article
Title: Social networks, social support and psychiatric symptoms: social determinants and associations within a multicultural community population
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00127-014-0943-8
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00127-014-0943-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1468754
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