Methods: Latinx patients with T2DM were recruited from a community health center in the Southwest region of the U.S between February and December 2019. Cross-sectional personal network data on 102 participants were collected by bilingual interviewers using nine name generating questions and a series of name interpreting questions. Personal network analysis (PNA) was conducted to measure network size and heterogeneity of relationship strength with network members, frequency of contact with network members, and geographic distance with network members. Perceived social support and mental and physical health statuses were measured by standardized scales. Bivariate correlations were analyzed to examine the relationship between social support and each network variable. Then, ordinary least square regression analyses were performed to examine how social support and social networks were associated with mental and physical health status, while controlling for participants’ age, gender, language preference, education, and marital status. Due to collinearity among personal network variables, analyses were conducted separately for each network variable (N=95).
Results: Bivariate correlations indicated that perceived social support was negatively correlated to heterogeneity of relationship strength with network members (r=.27; p<.01). At the multivariate level, patients with a larger network size (β=.26; p<.05) reported to have better mental health status, whereas those with a higher heterogeneity of geographic distance with network members (β=-.22; p<.05) reported to have poorer mental health status. Patients with a higher heterogeneity of frequency of contact with network members (β=-.35; p<.01) reported to have poorer physical health status.
Conclusions and Implications: We found that being connected with more network members was associated with better mental health, whereas being geographically distant with network members at varying levels was associated with poorer mental health and having more variations in contact frequency with network members was associated with poorer physical health. Social support was not associated with mental or physical health status. Our findings underscore the importance of measuring personal social networks through PNA in addition to overall social support to better understand how social relationships affect mental and physical health.