Masters Thesis

Impact of Social Support Quality on Alcohol Consumption among Older Adults

In the United States, 82.3% of adults 65 and older report using alcohol. Although previous research has found a decrease in drinking with older age, recent studies suggest that the rate of alcohol consumption among older adults is on the rise. Older adults are drinking more often but in lower quantities. Studies on alcohol suggest that age and gender influence consumption yet little is known about the quality of social support and its effect on these trends. Research on social relationships indicates that many metrics of social support do not consider the quality of social support and assume that all social support is positive. the present study used secondary data from the Midlife Development in the United States survey, a national study of health and well-being, for information about alcohol consumption and social relationships. the independent variable was the quality of social support (support and strain). It includes relationships with spouses/partners, friends, family, and overall social support. the dependent variable was alcohol misuse. Age, gender, marital status, depression, physical and mental health acted as potential covariates. Four logistic regressions were conducted, and show lower levels of overall and family social support increase the likelihood of alcohol misuse among older adults, but spousal, family, and friend social support and strain did not significantly predict misuse. Gender and marital status factor in to quality of relationship for overall, family, and friend social support and strain. Future research may focus on interventions to better address alcohol misuse among older adults.

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