Social Capital and Health - Findings from the Scottish Health Survey and Scottish Social Attitudes Survey

This paper explores the Scottish evidence for a link between social capital and health outcomes to inform the ongoing development of an assets-based approach to addressing health problems and inequalities.

3 Key Findings

  • Overall, the findings suggest that understanding people's level of social capital assets does, to varying degrees, improve our ability to predict their level of general health or mental wellbeing.
  • People's social networks - their contact with relatives, friends and neighbours in particular - appear to be associated with their self-assessed health. 80% of those who had contact with friends and relatives on most days felt their health was good or very good, compared with 66% of those who had contact once or twice a month or less. This relationship was still apparent after controlling for age and other demographic variables. Meanwhile, levels of mental wellbeing were higher among those who had more than two people they could turn to for support in a crisis.
  • Civic participation and feelings of self-efficacy in relation to improving one's community also appear to matter. Those who felt involved in their local community were also more likely than those who did not feel involved at all to rate their health as good or very good, even after controlling for demographic factors.
  • Similarly, those who agreed that they could influence decisions about their local area had higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who disagreed that this was the case. 91% of those who agreed or strongly agreed that they could influence their local area had an average or above average WEMWBS score, compared with 74% of those who strongly disagreed that this was the case.


Email: Linzie Liddell

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