Multidimensional Social Support and Health Services Use in LAMICs: Insights from Community-dwelling Older Ghanaian Adults

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Several aspects of social support networks have been linked to variations in health and well-being among older persons. However, it is unclear whether structural or functional social support is more influential in their healthcare use, especially in LAMICs where informal intergenerational social support is often dwindling. Ghana is experiencing considerable demographic ageing from fertility reduction and increases in life expectancy. However, a deteriorating health system seems unlikely to prove adequate for the health challenges presented by older adults, making identification of the roles of social support very important. This study examines multidimensional social support characteristics as predictors of health services utilisation among community-dwelling older Ghanaian adults (n =1,200; mean age 66.15±11.85) who participated in an Ageing, Health, Psychological Wellbeing and Health-seeking Behaviour Study. Multivariate logistic regression modelling indicated a high prevalence of 12-month healthcare use (89.3%), varied by gender across distinct components of social support (p˂0.001). Specific social support domains associated with health services use for all and by gender were number of children alive (odds ratio; OR = 2.29) (F: OR = 3.49; M = 2.02), receiving help from household (OR = 1.82) (F: OR = 1.13; M = 3.58) and remittances (OR = 1.65) (F: OR = 1.95; M = 1.98). Attending group/religious meetings was also associated with healthcare use (OR = 2.13), especially for women (OR = 3.26). Significant interactions were observed between attending social events (OR = 1.69; p˂0.05) and remittances (OR = 1.94; p˂0.05) whilst living with spouse among older women. Perceived structural and functional social supports thus appear influential in health services use among older adults in LAMICs. The study underscores the need for intervention programmes and social policies targeted at micro- and wider social- factors, including the novel area of remittances to older adults. The findings contribute significantly in achieving the health-related SDGs in LAMICs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2017
Event“Doing” Comparative Social Policy Analysis in Changing Global Context - Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
Duration: 8 Dec 20179 Dec 2017


Conference“Doing” Comparative Social Policy Analysis in Changing Global Context
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityTuen Mun
Internet address


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