The purpose of this study is to examine the level of depression and social relations of urban low income elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to compare the factors related to depression according to participation or continuation of regular social activities.
This study used survey data from ‘Small-area Health Disparity Reduction Project: a Health and Wellness Program for Seniors in A-gu, Seoul’, sponsored by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) and Seoul city government. Referring to previous studies and the theoretical framework by Berkman et al.(2000), the research model investigated the relationship between depression and micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social relation factors. As a result, 15% of the study participants reported depression. Social support, social activities(micro), and contact frequency with friends measured by network structure and characteristics(mezzo) was significantly associated with depression.
As a result of sub-analysis, social relation factors were not associated with depression in the non-participating group. Whereas, recognized social support(micro) decreased depression in both the discontinued and sustained group. Also, in the discontinued group, contact frequency with friends and level of community awareness(macro) were the protector factors of depression. Our results suggest the need for implementation of tailored health and welfare programs considering the characteristics of social networks, and provide evidence for multidimensional approaches to promote social relations and mental health of community dwelling elderly during the pandemic.