The joint effects of life stress and negative social exchanges on emotional distress

Kristin J. August, Karen S. Rook, Jason T. Newsom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives. Negative social exchanges detract considerably from older adults' emotional health, but little is known about the specific factors that make some older adults more vulnerable than others to such exchanges. This study examined whether stressful life experiences compound the impact of negative social exchanges on emotional distress. We examined both linear and nonlinear models of the joint effects of negative social exchanges and stressful life experiences. Methods. In-person interviews took place with a representative sample of 916 noninstitutionalized older adults. We examined linear and nonlinear models for three classes of stressful life experiences (relationship losses, disruptive events, and functional impairment). Results. Regression analyses that included first-order and second-order interaction terms revealed a linear pattern for loss events and functional impairment, and a nonlinear pattern for disruptive events. Discussion. This study suggests that negative social exchanges and stressful life experiences jointly affect emotional distress, but the particular nature of the joint effects varies by type and level of stressor. Negative social exchanges appear to have more severe effects in the context of some stressors but less severe effects in the context of other stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S304-S314
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume62
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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