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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012, Article ID 978036, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1100/2012/978036
Research Article

Availability, Use, and Cultivation of Support Networks as Predictors of the Well-Being of Middle-Aged and Older Chinese: A Panel Study

1Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong, Tatchee Avenue, Hong Kong
2Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Received 31 October 2011; Accepted 17 December 2011

Academic Editor: David V. Espino

Copyright © 2012 Alice Ming Lin Chong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Objectives. To examine the impact of the availability, use, and cultivation of a support network on the well-being of community-dwelling, middle-aged, and older Chinese. Methods. A total of 2,970 Hong Kong Chinese aged 40–74 years were interviewed using a structured questionnaire in 2004. Out of the original group of interviewees, 2,120 (71.4%) were interviewed again in 2005. Results. Structural equation modeling revealed a good fit of the model employing Wave 1 support network data and demographic characteristics to predict Wave 2 well-being. As hypothesized, the availability of important social ties and the cultivation of one’s support networks were found to predict well-being one year later, but not the use of support networks to meet emotional, financial, or companion needs after controlling for demographic variables and baseline well-being. Discussion. Cultivating support networks can be interpreted as positive and active coping. Such cultivation is in line with what socioemotional selectivity theory predicts; specifically, when people age, they become more selective and concentrate on strengthening their relationship with those they are emotionally close to. We argue that network cultivation deserves more attention in theory, practice, and research to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of individuals approaching and experiencing old age.