Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Health Promotion, Education and Behavior
The Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health
Andrew T. Kaczynski
Access to social capital via social networks is important for health and may be linked with chronic disease, including obesity and hypertension. Socioeconomic status (SES) may influence access to social capital and social network characteristics, and may also moderate the relationship between social capital, social networks, and health. Yet few studies have explored relationships between social capital, social networks, and chronic disease among resource poor individuals.
Respondent-driven sampling was employed to recruit participants (n=430) from low-income communities in the US South for a household survey as part of the Greenville Healthy Neighborhoods Project. The survey collected information about participants’ SES (household income and educational attainment), body mass index and hypertension status, cognitive and network social capital, as well as their core network characteristics (i.e., density, educational attainment, proximity). The data suggest that low SES may be associated with lower access to social network capital as well as social network characteristics. The data also provide some evidence that SES may moderate the associations between social capital, social networks, and chronic disease. Moreover, mixed relationships were observed between social capital, social networks, and chronic disease, suggesting that not all social capital may be associated with improvements in health, as has been widely concluded and promoted in previous literature. Indeed, the relationship between social capital, social networks, and health may be more nuanced than previously hypothesized, including variations in the directionality of these relationships by socioeconomic positioning.
The contingency of the relationships between social capital, social networks, and chronic disease on SES has important ramifications for public health research, including disparities in chronic disease outcomes, and challenging the framework for social relationships and health among low-income communities. Finally, these studies raise important questions for future research regarding the interplay of social capital, social network characteristics, and SES on health disparities, and in particular for communities most strongly afflicted with chronic disease and poor health.
Child, S.(2016). Social Capital And Social Networks: The Importance Of Social Ties For Health Among Residents Of Disadvantaged Communities. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/3848