3 years ago

Social capital and health in China: exploring the mediating role of lifestyle

Social capital and health in China: exploring the mediating role of lifestyle
Mingmei Cheng, Xindong Xue
Although social capital as a key determinant of health has been well established in various studies, little is known about how lifestyle factors mediate this relationship. Understanding the cross-relationships between social capital, health, and lifestyle factors is important if health promotion policies are to be effective. The purpose of this study is to explore whether different dimensions of social capital and lifestyle factors are related, and whether lifestyle factors mediate the association between social capital and self-rated health (SRH) and psychological well-being (PWB) in China. This study used nationally representative data from the 2014 China Family Panel Studies (n = 28,916). The data reported on three dimensions of individual-level social capital: social trust, social relationship and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) membership. Health was assessed using SRH and PWB. Five lifestyle indicators were recorded: healthy diet, physical activity, smoking, sleeping, and non-overweight status. Logistic regression was used to examine the associations between social capital and lifestyle factors, and whether there was a mediating role of lifestyle. Odds ratios relating health status to social capital were reported before and after adjustment for lifestyle factors. Mediation analysis was then used to calculate the total, direct and indirect effects of social capital on SRH and PWB. The results show that social trust was significantly associated with all five lifestyle factors. Social relationship was significantly associated with four of the five: healthy diet, physical activity, sleeping and non-overweight. CCP membership was only significantly associated with two lifestyle factors: physical activity and non-overweight. Social trust and social relationship were significantly related to both SRH and PWB. CCP membership was only significantly related to SRH. Mediation analysis found modest evidence that lifestyle factors influenced the relationship between all three types of social capital and SRH. In contrast, only social trust and social relationship, but not CCP membership, were mediated by lifestyle factors with respect to PWB. This study is the first to explore the mediating role of lifestyle factors in the relationship between social capital and health in China. The overall findings suggest that lifestyle factors modestly mediate the association between social capital and health. The degree of mediating effect varies across different dimensions of social capital. Social capital-based health promotion policies would benefit from taking lifestyle factors into account.
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