“The we's have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in aging

Haslam, Catherine, Cruwys, Tegan and Haslam, S. Alexander (2014) “The we's have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in aging. Social Science and Medicine, 120 57-66. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.037

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Author Haslam, Catherine
Cruwys, Tegan
Haslam, S. Alexander
Title “The we's have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in aging
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-9536
1873-5347
Publication date 2014-08-28
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.08.037
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 120
Start page 57
End page 66
Total pages 10
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon Press
Language eng
Subject 3306 Health (social science)
1207 History and Philosophy of Science
Abstract Aligned with research in the social capital and general health literature, a large body of evidence shows that older people who are more socially active have better cognitive integrity and are less vulnerable to cognitive decline. The present research addresses the question of whether the type of social engagement (group-based vs. individual) has differential effects on these cognitive health outcomes. Drawing on population data (N = 3413) from three waves (i.e., Waves 3, 4 and 5) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we investigated the independent contribution of group and individual engagement in predicting cognitive functioning four years later. Hierarchical linear regression was used entering age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and physical health as covariates. The final model, controlling for initial cognitive function and social engagement (both group and individual) showed that only group engagement made a significant, sustained, and unique contribution to subsequent cognitive function. Furthermore, the effects of group engagement were stronger with increasing age. These findings extend previous work on the social determinants of health by pinpointing the types of relationships that are particularly beneficial in protecting cognitive health. The fact that group engagement optimized health outcomes, and that this was especially the case with increasing age, has important implications for directing community resources to keep older adults mentally active and independent for longer.
Formatted abstract
Aligned with research in the social capital and general health literature, a large body of evidence shows that older people who are more socially active have better cognitive integrity and are less vulnerable to cognitive decline. The present research addresses the question of whether the type of social engagement (group-based vs. individual) has differential effects on these cognitive health outcomes. Drawing on population data (N = 3413) from three waves (i.e., Waves 3, 4 and 5) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, we investigated the independent contribution of group and individual engagement in predicting cognitive functioning four years later. Hierarchical linear regression was used entering age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and physical health as covariates. The final model, controlling for initial cognitive function and social engagement (both group and individual) showed that only group engagement made a significant, sustained, and unique contribution to subsequent cognitive function. Furthermore, the effects of group engagement were stronger with increasing age. These findings extend previous work on the social determinants of health by pinpointing the types of relationships that are particularly beneficial in protecting cognitive health. The fact that group engagement optimized health outcomes, and that this was especially the case with increasing age, has important implications for directing community resources to keep older adults mentally active and independent for longer.
Keyword Cognitive Function
Social Capital
Social Identity
Group engagement
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 23 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 26 Sep 2014, 22:54:04 EST by Tegan Cruwys on behalf of School of Psychology