Personal social capital and self-rated health among middle-aged and older adults: across-sectional study exploring the roles of leisure-time physical activity and socioeconomic status
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Background Personal social capital, which refers to the scope and quality of an individual’s social networks within a community, has received increasing attention as a potential sociological factor associated with better individual health; yet, the mechanism relating social capital to health is still not fully understood. This study examined the associations between social capital and self-rated health while exploring the roles of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and socioeconomic status (SES) among middle-aged and older adults. Methods Cross-sectional data were collected from 662 middle-aged and older adults (Mean age: 58.11 ± 10.59 years old) using the Qualtrics survey panel. Personal Social Capital Scale was used to measure bonding and bridging social capital and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess LTPA levels. SES was assessed by education and household income levels. Self-rated health was assessed using a single item, by which the participants were categorized into the two groups, having ‘good’ vs. ‘not good’ self-rated health. A series of univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were established to examine the independent and adjusted associations of social capital with self-rated health and to test mediating and moderating roles of LTPA and SES, respectively. Results Bonding and bridging social capital were positively associated with self-rated health (Odds ratios = 1.11 and 1.09; P’s < .05, respectively), independent of LTPA that was also significantly associated with greater self-rated health (P-for-linear trends = .007). After adjusting SES, the associations of social capital were significantly attenuated and there was a significant interaction effect by household income (P-for-interaction = .012). Follow-up analyses stratified by household income showed that beneficial associations of social capital with self-rated health were more apparent among the people with low and high levels of household income; yet, LTPA was the stronger predictor of self-rated health among those in the middle class of household income. Conclusions Findings suggest that both social capital and LTPA are associated with better self-rated health; yet, these associations vary by SES. The health policymakers should address both social capital and LTPA for enhancing perceived health among aging populations but may need to consider varying SES backgrounds.