Social Support and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Elderly Individuals Living Alone in South Korea: A Cross-Sectional Study

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Abstract

Background:

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an important component of healthy aging. Elderly individuals living alone with health risks have rapidly increased in South Korea. Inadequate social support has been associated with poor HRQoL in elderly individuals who are currently living alone. Although studies of HRQoL in elderly subjects who live alone have been conducted, studies of the relationships between social support and HRQoL have rarely targeted the elderly individuals living alone.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to identify the factors that are related to HRQoL among the elderly individuals living alone in South Korea.

Methods:

A cross-sectional study design was used. Five hundred seventeen elderly individuals who were living alone in community dwellings and aged 65 years or older were included. The structured questionnaires included the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, demographic characteristics, health status, and behavior factors. A descriptive analysis and hierarchical multivariate logistic regression were conducted to examine significant correlations between the variables.

Results:

The mean score of the Physical Component Summary was 43.00 (± 4.82), and the mean score of the Mental Component Summary (MCS) was 45.94 (± 7.21). After controlling for demographic characteristics, health status, and behavior factors, support from significant others was negatively associated with the Physical Component Summary scores, whereas support from significant others, family, and friends was positively associated with the MCS scores.

Conclusions:

Social support emerged as an important factor in the HRQoL domains of the MCS of the participants. Future interventions should focus more on implementing effective social support strategies to improve HRQoL in elderly individuals who live alone.

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