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The Gerontologist 46:735-743 (2006)
© 2006 The Gerontological Society of America

Network Type and Mortality Risk in Later Life

Howard Litwin, DSW1 and Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra, PhD1

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Howard Litwin, DSW, Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905-IL, Israel. E-mail: mshowie{at}

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the association of baseline network type and 7-year mortality risk in later life. Design and Methods: We executed secondary analysis of all-cause mortality in Israel using data from a 1997 national survey of adults aged 60 and older (N = 5,055) that was linked to records from the National Death Registry up to 2004. We considered six network types—diverse, friend focused, neighbor focused, family focused, community–clan, and restricted—in the analysis, controlling for population group, sociodemographic background, and health factors. We carried out Cox proportional hazards regressions for the entire sample and separately by age group at baseline: 60–69, 70–79, and 80 and older.  Results: Network types were associated with mortality in the 70–79 and 80 and older age groups. Respondents located in diverse and friend-focused network types, and to a lesser degree those located in community–clan network types, had a lower risk of mortality compared to individuals belonging to restricted networks. Implications: Gerontological practitioners should address older adults' social networks in their assessments of clients. The parameters used to derive network types in this study can serve toward the development of practical network type inventories. Moreover, practitioners should tailor the interventions they implement to the different network types in which their elderly clients are embedded.

Key Words: Social network • Survival • Israel • Friends • Risk

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Copyright © 2006 by The Gerontological Society of America.