To examine the association between markers of social position and psychiatric disorder among older adults, and test whether social support mediates the association between social position and psychiatric disorder in this population.
We used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being to examine the social patterning of disorder. Using a series of logistic regression analyses, we regressed indicators of mood, anxiety, and any disorder on markers of social position and social support.
A negative association between age and disorder was evident across all models, and the likelihood of reporting disorder was elevated among separated–divorced and widowed respondents relative to their married counterparts. Social support was statistically significant in all models, and mediated a considerable amount of the effect of marital status on disorder.
Many of the markers of social position associated with disorder among younger adults continue to be important predictors among older adults, and these variables are mediated to varying degrees by social support. The results support the general notion that social circumstances are important to psychological well-being. We discuss potential explanations for findings related to sex, age, marital status, and education as predictors of disorder in later life.