Social isolation and health among family caregivers of older adults: Less community participation may indicate poor self-reported health

Janet S. Pohl, Janice F. Bell, Daniel J. Tancredi, Nancy F. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Social isolation is associated with adverse health outcomes in the general older adult population, but little is known about indicators of social isolation in family caregiver populations. This cross-sectional study examined the prevalence of social isolation in the 2015 National Survey of Caregiving. Using the Convoy Model of social relations, a life-course social support framework, we also examined associations between social isolation and caregiver self-reported health. Using multiple ordinal logistic regression models, we examined social isolation – operationalised with a five-item summative measure and, alternatively, with each social isolation item – as a predictor of self-reported general health status. On the dichotomised summative measure, 24.74% (n = 2,175) were more isolated. Younger caregivers were more isolated (M = 56.77 years, SE = 0.76) compared with those who were not (M = 60.86 years, SE = 0.41). Self-reported general health was as follows: 4.93% poor; 15.67% fair; 25.62% good; 34.81% very good and 18.97% excellent. Less social isolation was associated with higher odds of better self-reported health (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.19; CI = 1.05–1.35). Of the individual social isolation indicators, only a lack of community participation was associated with higher odds of worse self-reported health (AOR = 1.57; CI = 1.25–1.97). Social isolation and particularly community participation were associated with caregiver health status. It may be necessary for healthcare providers to consider these factors in caregiver health assessments. Future research is recommended to understand the consequences of various social isolation indicators in diverse samples including younger caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e6175-e6184
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • community
  • connectedness
  • interpersonal
  • relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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