Subjective Social Support in Older Male Italian-Born Immigrants in Australia
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This paper describes differences in subjective social support between older male Italian-born immigrants in Australia and their Australian-born counterparts. Data came from 335 Italian-born and 849 Australian-born men aged 70 years and over who participated in the baseline phase of the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project (CHAMP) in inner suburban Sydney, Australia. Social support was measured using the shortened (11 item) version of the Duke Social Support Index (DSSI). This index measures both social interactions and expressive social support. Logistic regression was used to examine differences in subjective social support between the two groups of men after controlling for other related factors. Italian-born men were about twice as likely to report low subjective social support compared to Australian-born men (unadjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, p = 0.0002). This difference remained after adjustment for sociodemographic, socioeconomic, social network and health factors (adjusted OR = 2.1, p = 0.0007). Italian-born men were more likely to report that they had no non-family members in the local area to rely on. However, lack of non-family supports did not remain significantly associated with perceived social support after adjustment for social interactions and depressive symptoms. Italian-born men were more likely to report low subjective support despite the presence of several protective factors such as a greater number of local family supports and a high rate of home ownership.
KeywordsSocial support Italian immigrants Ageing Men
The CHAMP study was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC Project Grant No. 301916) and the Ageing and Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. Dr Stanaway’s contribution to this study was supported by an NHMRC Postgraduate Research Scholarship in Public Health (Scholarship No. 402956). We would also like to thank the contributions of David J Handelsman, Helen M Creasey, Markus J Seibel, Philip N Sambrook and David G Le Couteur.
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