Relationships between social connectedness and spirituality on development of depression and perceived health status in rural populations
Henry, Melissa L.
Hummel, Faye I.
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
Determinants of health are factors which impact an individual’s health and include the social, economic and physical environments as well as personal characteristics and behaviors according to the World Health Organization and Healthy People 2020. Social determinants of health include socioeconomic conditions, social norms, social support and social interactions. Social support and social interactions relate to how connected an individual feels to friends, family and others in the community. Social connectedness and spirituality are two resources which impact physical, mental and social well-being. These social determinants have a strong impact on health, but are not often examined when looking at the overall health of an individual. Vulnerable populations are groups who because of lack of needed resources and increased risk factors are at higher risk of adverse physical, mental and social health outcomes. Rural populations are considered vulnerable populations due to higher number of risk factors and fewer resources than more urban areas. Lack of social resources in rural populations may include social isolation, lack of social support or social interactions. The purpose of the research study was examination of the relationships between social connectedness and spirituality on the level of self-reported depression and perceived health in rural populations. Four hypotheses looked at the relationship between each independent variable (social connectedness and spiritual perspective) with each dependent variable (self-reported depression and perceived health) while controlling for age, gender, income level, ethnicity, length of time in the county, how many family members live within 30 miles and living in incorporated or unincorporated areas of the county. A quantitative, correlational study was conducted using hierarchical multiple regression analyses. A convenience sample of rural residents in a county in western Colorado was asked to complete a health questionnaire asking about their level of social connectedness, spiritual perspective, depression and how they perceived their health. Statistical results supported the two of the four hypotheses relating to social connectedness. Social connectedness was found to positively predict perceived health and negatively impact the level of self-reported depression. The more socially connected a person felt, the better they perceived themselves as physically and mentally healthy based on the health and well-being scale and the less depressive symptoms were reported as measured by the depression scale. Spiritual perspective was not found to significantly predict either self-reported depression or perceived health. The study’s findings point out many implications for nursing, health care providers and rural community leaders as well as future research needs. Understanding how these social resources impact self-reported depression levels and perceived health of rural residents is vital to better understand the full complexity of health and disease of these individuals.
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