Trajectories of Social Engagement and Mortality

Patricia A. Thomas, University of Texas at Austin

This study uses social integration theory within a life course framework to examine trajectories of social engagement over time and how those patterns relate to mortality. The analysis uses data on older adults from the Americans’ Changing Lives survey, a nationally representative panel study, with mortality information spanning from 1986 to 2005. Results suggest that even after controlling for known predictors of mortality, membership in social engagement trajectories that were initially high on social engagement and either increased or only slightly decreased were related to lower risk of mortality. These findings suggest the importance of maintaining high levels of social engagement over time for the health of older adults.

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Presented in Poster Session 6