An exploration of the relationship between perceptions of social connection and health in older people with a chronic illness - type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this research was to explore the relationships between social connection and perceptions of health, in the context of older people living with a specific chronic illness, type 2 diabetes mellitus, in an urban environment. This research sought to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the multiple dimensions of chronic illness in an aging population, a critical issue of which the need for research has been established. METHODS: Convenience purposeful sampling was used to recruit 12 participants from Royal District Nursing Service centre in Victoria, Australia. Mixed methods research was used. Quantitative data was obtained via two tools, the SF-12, a l2-item validated tool was used to collect physical and mental health data and the Social Disengagement Index (SDI) developed by (Bassuk, Glass, & Berkman, 1999) was used to collect social connection data. Qualitative data was obtained by semi-structured face-to-face interviews and analysed utilising descriptive exploratory methods. RESULTS: The physical health of participants was poor, as demonstrated by a low mean physical composite score on the SF-12 (mean 34.5, std 11.1) whereas mental health of participants was average (mean mental composite score SF-12 50.1, std 10.6). The Social Disengagement Index identified the participants' extent of social connection (mean SDI 3, std 0.6).
The qualitative data analysis identified three major themes, underpinning factors, social networks and consequences. Each major theme had identifiable categories. The qualitative data reinforced the quantitative findings of social connectedness, however it illustrated that social connections were fragile. CONCLUSION: This research found a cyclic relationship between underpinning factors, specifically illness or physical health status; social networks specifically the district nurse and the consequences which were fragile social connection. The noteworthy finding of this research is the need for the participants to have an illness to stay socially connected Via the district nurse. This finding could be explored further in future research
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Science
Awarding Institution
  • La Trobe University
  • Watt, Elizabeth, Supervisor, External person
Award date7 Dec 2009
Place of PublicationMelbourne
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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