J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2016 Oct;20(2):45-52. 10.0000/jkgp.2016.20.2.45.

Social Network, Social Support, Social Conflict and Mini-Mental State Examination Scores of Rural Older Adults : Differential Associations across Relationship Types

  • 1Department of Psychology, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea. hykimpsy@jbnu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Sociology, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.


This study aimed to examine the effects of the social engagement (size of the social networks, social support, social conflict) by relationship types (spouse, family and kin, and neighbor and friends) on the cognitive functions of older adults in rural communities.
The participants of this study were normal older adults who participated in the first wave of the Korean Social Life, Health and Aging Project. Five hundred two older adults (men 218, women 284) aged 60 and over (mean age=71.44±6.81) participated. We analyzed the effects of different types of social engagement on Mini-Mental State Examination for Dementia Screening (MMSE-DS) performance using hierarchical multiple regression analysis.
The result showed that, after controlling for the education level and age, the social support from the spouse, the conflict with neighbors or friends, the number of neighbors or friends significantly predicted MMSE-DS scores. These three variables accounted for additional 5.2% of the total variance of MMSE-DS.
Our findings suggest that social engagement (network size, support, conflict) is associated with cognitive function among older adults. However, social engagement in different types of social relationship may contribute differently to cognitive function of older adults.


Social networks; Social support; Social conflict; Cognitive aging; Cognitive reserve
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