The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition
Vol. 36, No. 1, 2017, pp. 1-8
Bioline Code: hn17024
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge
The Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2017, pp. 1-8
© Copyright 2017 - The Author(s)
Informal care and health behaviors among elderly people with chronic diseases|
Wu, Hong & Lu, Naiji
Background: The mechanism by which social relationships influence health can be interpreted as a social network
regulating one’s health behaviors. Based on the hypothesis that relatives, friends, or neighbors are sources of social
support and may monitor one’s health behaviors, researchers have gotten significant and consistent results that a
social network can regulate health behaviors. However, few empirical studies have been conducted to examine the
role of informal care in the regulation of health behaviors, especially for elderly individuals with chronic diseases
that can be controlled by healthy behaviors. This paper researched the effects of informal care on health
behaviors—smoking control, dietetic regulation, weight control, and maintenance of exercise—among elderly
patients with chronic diseases in China who are facing the challenge of aging.
Methods: We used the propensity score matching method to control the impacts of a very rich set of family and
individual characteristics. The 2011–2012 national baseline data of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal
Study (CHARLS) was used.
Results: Our findings showed that informal care could significantly help improve the health behaviors of elderly
people. Informal care could improve the compliance of smoking control and dietetic regulation significantly. Elderly
people with informal care smoked less and consumed more meals per day. For weight control, informal care
helped decrease the possibility of weight gain of elderly people, but its impacts were not significant for BMI and
weight loss. Last, for the elders, informal care could only help increase the probability of walking exercise; however,
there was no significant result for moderate exercise.
Conclusions: Findings from this study highlight the importance of informal care among elderly people. Our results
appeal to policy makers who aim to control chronic diseases that they should take informal care into account and
provide appropriate policies to meet the demand of informal care for elderly people.
Informal care; Health behaviors; Chronic diseases; Elderly people; CHARLS; Propensity score matching method
Alternative site location: http://www.jhpn.net