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Relationship between sense of community belonging and self-rated health across life stages.

  • Michalski, Camilla A1
  • Diemert, Lori M1
  • Helliwell, John F2
  • Goel, Vivek1, 3
  • Rosella, Laura C1, 3
  • 1 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 3M7, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 2 Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia, 6000 Iona Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1L4, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 3 Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 3M7, Canada. , (Canada)
Published Article
SSM - population health
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100676
PMID: 33134474


Health interventions aimed at facilitating connectedness among seniors have recently gained traction, seeing as social connectedness is increasingly being recognized as an important determinant of health. However, research examining the association between connectedness and health across all age groups is limited, and few studies have focused on community belonging as a tangible aspect of social connectedness. Using a population-based Canadian cohort, this study aims to investigate (1) the associations between community belonging with self-rated general health and self-rated mental health, and (2) how these associations differ across life stages. Data from six cycles of a national population health survey (Canadian Community Health Survey) from 2003 to 2014 were combined. Multinomial logistic regressions were run for both outcomes on the overall study sample, as well as within three age strata: (1) 18-39, (2) 40-59, and (3) ≥ 60 years old. Weaker community belonging exhibited an association with both poorer general and mental health, though a stronger association was observed with mental health. These associations were observed across all three age strata. In the fully adjusted model, among those reporting a very weak sense of community belonging, the odds of reporting the poorest versus best level of health were 3.21 (95% CI: 3.11, 3.31) times higher for general health, and 4.95 (95% CI: 4.75, 5.16) times higher for mental health, compared to those reporting a very strong sense of community belonging. The largest effects among those reporting very weak community belonging were observed among those aged between 40 and 59 years old. This study contributed to the evidence base supporting life stage differences in the relationship between community belonging and self-perceived health. This is a starting point to identifying how age-graded differences in unmet social needs relate to population health interventions. © 2020 The Authors.

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