Purpose: A number of factors impact an individual’s health, including the social, economic and physical environments surrounding the individual, as well as their personal characteristics and behaviors (World Health Organization, 2012a; United States Health and Human Services, 2011). Social factors, such as social norms, social support, and social interactions are known to have a strong impact on health, but are often omitted when looking at the overall health of an individual. Rural residents are vulnerable to poorer health outcomes because they often lack needed resources and have other risk factors for developing adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Lack of social resources in rural areas may lead to social isolation, which may contribute to poorer health outcomes observed in some of these residents. Little is known, however about the relationship of social determinants of health in rural residents and overall health outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to examine the relationships between 2 social determinants of health, social connectedness and spirituality, on the level of self-reported depression and perceived health in a rural population.
Sample: A convenience sample of rural residents in a western Colorado county.
Method: Self-reported survey data collection with hierarchical multiple regression analyses.
Findings: The more socially connected a person felt, the better they perceived themselves as physically and mentally healthy. Additionally, the more socially connected the individual felt the less depressive symptoms they reported. Spiritual perspective was not found to correlate significantly with either self-reported depression or perceived health.
Conclusion: We found that social connectedness is an important factor in the overall well-being of rural residents in this small convenience sample. This has significant implications for assessment of the health needs of rural residents and raises awareness of the need to provide opportunities for residents to become more socially active.
Keywords: social connectedness, spiritual perspective, spirituality, depression, health, rural populations, vulnerable populations, social determinants of health.
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