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Louise Cowpertwait

Doctor of Clinical Psychology, (Doctor of Clinical Psychology)
Study Completed: 2014
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
An Exploration of the Relationship of Social Networks with Depression among Older Adults: A Prospective Study

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Depression among older people is a significant problem. This problem is becoming increasingly important due to ageing populations, but has been relatively neglected in research. Social networks represent a potential resource for mental health clinicians and social policy, but little is known about the relationship between depression and social networks among older adults. Ms Cowpertwait investigated the relationship between aspects of older people’s social networks and depression by statistically analysing data from a large sample of older New Zealanders. She found that social integration significantly predicts lower levels of depressive symptoms up to three years later. Older people tend to perceive their social networks more positively than younger adults despite generally having fewer contacts. She found that perceptions of social networks were stronger predictors of depressive symptoms than objective indicators of social integration. Contact with non-family social ties (such as friends and community groups) are more important relative to contact with family.

Dr Dave Clarke
Professor Fiona Alpass

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