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Age Moderates the Relationship between Social Support and Psychosocial Problems
Unformatted Document Text:  Age Moderates 22 pattern of results occurred for the analysis of contact with friends. Contact with friends was uniformly associated with lower depression and loneliness across all ages. Finally, age was expected to moderate the relationship between social support from a partner/spouse and psychosocial problems. Because the elderly tend to have smaller social networks available, partner social support was expected to be especially vital to their well-being. However, the significant age by partner social support interaction suggested just the opposite. It was the younger people for whom partner social support was most strongly and negatively associated with their symptoms of depression. There is something remarkable about the form of the three significant age by social support/contact interactions that were detected in these analyses. In all cases, it was the younger participants who appeared to reap the greatest benefits from social support or contact with all sources, be they friends, family, or partners/spouses. In certain cases, such as contact with family members and loneliness, the relationship was not even significant under conditions of older age. These findings are consistent with a growing body of literature that questions the extent to which social support has a prophylactic effect on depression and/or loneliness among the elderly (e.g., Kim et al., 2000; McCamish-Svensson et al., 1999). Dykstra (1993) for example found that social support from friends and children only protects against loneliness when a partner is unavailable. Among her elderly participants with a partner, there was no association between perceived social support and loneliness. In the present study, the association between family social support and loneliness was r = -.44, for unmarried people over age 55, but r = -.04 for married people over age 55. The associations between social support from friends and loneliness were r = - .40 and r = -.13 for the unmarried and married 55+ participants, respectively. The

Authors: Segrin, Chris.
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Age Moderates
22
pattern of results occurred for the analysis of contact with friends. Contact with friends was
uniformly associated with lower depression and loneliness across all ages.
Finally, age was expected to moderate the relationship between social support from
a partner/spouse and psychosocial problems. Because the elderly tend to have smaller
social networks available, partner social support was expected to be especially vital to their
well-being. However, the significant age by partner social support interaction suggested
just the opposite. It was the younger people for whom partner social support was most
strongly and negatively associated with their symptoms of depression.
There is something remarkable about the form of the three significant age by social
support/contact interactions that were detected in these analyses. In all cases, it was the
younger participants who appeared to reap the greatest benefits from social support or
contact with all sources, be they friends, family, or partners/spouses. In certain cases, such
as contact with family members and loneliness, the relationship was not even significant
under conditions of older age. These findings are consistent with a growing body of
literature that questions the extent to which social support has a prophylactic effect on
depression and/or loneliness among the elderly (e.g., Kim et al., 2000; McCamish-Svensson
et al., 1999). Dykstra (1993) for example found that social support from friends and
children only protects against loneliness when a partner is unavailable. Among her elderly
participants with a partner, there was no association between perceived social support and
loneliness. In the present study, the association between family social support and
loneliness was r = -.44, for unmarried people over age 55, but r = -.04 for married people
over age 55. The associations between social support from friends and loneliness were r = -
.40 and r = -.13 for the unmarried and married 55+ participants, respectively. The


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