Social support and long-term mortality in the elderly: Role of comorbidity

Francesca Mazzella, Francesco Cacciatore, Gianluigi Galizia, David Della-Morte, Marianna Rossetti, Rosa Abbruzzese, Assunta Langellotto, Daniela Avolio, Gaetano Gargiulo, Nicola Ferrara, Franco Rengo, Pasquale Abete

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Several studies have demonstrated a global increase in morbidity and mortality in elderly subjects with low social support or high comorbidity. However, the relationship between social support and comorbidity on long-term mortality in elderly people is not yet known. Thus, the present study was performed to evaluate the relationship between social support and comorbidity on 12-year mortality of elderly people. A random sample of 1288 subjects aged 65-95 years interviewed in 1992 was studied. Comorbidity by Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) score and Social Support by a scale in which total score ranges from 0 to 17, assigning to lowest social support the highest score, were evaluated. At 12-year follow-up, mortality progressively increase with low social support and comorbidity increasing (from 41.5% to 66.7% and from 41.2% to 68.3%, respectively; p<. 0.001). Moreover, low social support progressively increases with comorbidity increasing (and 12.4 ± 2.5 to 14.3 ± 2.6; p<. 0.001). Accordingly, multivariate analysis shows an increased mortality risk of 23% for each increase of tertile of social support scale (Hazard ratio = HR = 1.23; 95% CI = 1.01-1.51; p= 0.045). Moreover, when the analysis was performed considering different degrees of comorbidity we found that social support level was predictive of mortality only in subjects with the highest comorbidity (HR = 1.39; 95% CI = 1.082-1.78; p= 0.01). Thus, low social support is predictive of long-term mortality in the elderly. Moreover, the effect of social support on mortality increases in subjects with the highest comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Charlson Comorbidity Index
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology


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