Does mode of contact with different types of social relationships predict depression in older adults? Evidence from a nationally representative survey

Alan Teo, Hwajung Choi, Sarah B. Andrea, Marcia Valenstein, Jason T. Newsom, Steven Dobscha, Kara Zivin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine associations between use of three different modes of social contact (in person, telephone, written or e-mail), contact with different types of people, and risk of depressive symptoms in a nationally representative, longitudinal sample of older adults. Design Population-based observational cohort. Setting Urban and suburban communities throughout the contiguous United States. Participants Individuals aged 50 and older who participated in the Health and Retirement Survey between 2004 and 2010 (N = 11,065). Measurements Frequency of participant use of the three modes of social contact with children, other family members, and friends at baseline were used to predict depressive symptoms (measured using the eight-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) 2 years later using multivariable logistic regression models. Results Probability of having depressive symptoms steadily increased as frequency of in-person - but not telephone or written or e-mail contact - decreased. After controlling for demographic, clinical, and social variables, individuals with in-person social contact every few months or less with children, other family, and friends had a significantly higher probability of clinically significant depressive symptoms 2 years later (11.5%) than those having in-person contact once or twice per month (8.1%; P

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2014-2022
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015



  • e-mail
  • face-to-face
  • in-person
  • social isolation
  • telephone
  • written

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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