Social engagement and chronic disease risk behaviors: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Laura J. Samuel, Cheryl R. Dennison Himmelfarb, Moyses Szklo, Teresa E. Seeman, Sandra E. Echeverria, Ana V. Diez Roux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although engagement in social networks is important to health, multiple different dimensions exist. This study identifies which dimensions are associated with chronic disease risk behaviors. Methods: Cross-sectional data on social support, loneliness, and neighborhood social cohesion from 5381 participants, aged 45-84 from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis was used. Results: After adjusting for individual characteristics and all social engagement variables, social support was associated with lower smoking prevalence (PR = 0.88, 95% CI: 0.82, 0.94), higher probability of having quit (PR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.06) and a slightly higher probability of achieving physical activity recommendations (PR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.06). Neighborhood social cohesion was associated with very slightly higher probability of achieving recommended (PR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.05) or any regular (PR = 1.0, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.04) physical activity, and a higher probability of consuming at least five daily fruit and vegetable servings (PR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.09). Conclusions: Both social support and neighborhood social cohesion, a less commonly considered aspect of social engagement, appear to be important for chronic disease prevention interventions and likely act via separate pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Neighborhood social cohesion
  • Physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Social engagement
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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