Social Support, Depression, and Functional Disability in Older Adult Primary-Care Patients

Linda A. Travis, Jeffrey M. Lyness, Cleveland G. Shields, Deborah A. King, Christopher Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Objective: The authors asked whether social support and depression are independently associated with functional disability and examined the potential role of social support as a moderator in the depression-functional disability association. Methods: Subjects were 305 patients age 60 years and over. Predictor variables were social support, depressive symptoms, and depression diagnosis. Dependent variables were the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale, the Physical Self-Maintenance Scale, and the Physical Functioning subscale of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Authors used multiple-regression analyses. Results: Depressive symptoms and all dimensions of social support were independently associated with functional disability: the specifics of these relationships varied among types of social support and functional disability. Depression diagnosis was not independently associated with any functional disability measure. Social support (more instrumental help, more perceived satisfaction) moderated some depression diagnosis-functional disability associations, and one depressive symptom-functional disability association. Conclusions: The study hypotheses were partially confirmed. Different dimensions of social support have important and varied roles in the depression-functional disability dynamic. Future research is needed to further specify the complex relationships among depression, social support, and functional disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-271
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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