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Title: Investigating social relationships, depression and hopelessness in older people
Author: Bowie, Angela J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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The aim of this study was to investigate differences between two groups in relation to level of hopelessness, perceived social support, size of social networks and social relationships, in particular marital relationships. The investigator was interested in how an individual’s functioning may impact on his or her social relationships and the effect of marital status on levels of depression and hopelessness. A cross-sectional between groups design was utilised. Older people with a diagnosis of depression (aged 65 and over) were compared to a community control group of older people (aged 65 and over) who were not depressed. All participants completed questionnaires measuring mood, level of hopelessness, perceived social support and demographic variables such as marital status and size of social network. The main result was that older people who were depressed were satisfied with their level of social support. Group comparisons revealed that there was no difference in perceived social support despite older people who were not depressed having significantly larger social networks. However, higher levels of hopelessness were found in individuals who were not currently in a marital relationship. This finding has implications for clinicians working with older people with mental health difficulties. Interpreted using a life-span perspective, the results suggest that older people may adapt to the ageing process by focusing on social support from a smaller set of ties which includes family and close friends. This highlights the complexity and multifaceted nature of social relationships as people grow older, regardless of whether they have or have not mental health difficulties. The study showed that levels of hopelessness were present in participants who were not depressed and the importance of social relationships for well-being in later life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available