Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression in Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey

We report on a study using national longitudinal data to determine the associations between use of three different modes of social contact (in person, telephone, written or e-mail) with older adults, and the older adults' risk of depressive symptoms. We find that the probability of having depressive symptoms steadily increased as frequency of in-person-but not telephone or written or e-mail contact-decreased. After controlling for demographic, clinical, and social variables, individuals with in-person social contact every few months or less with children, other family, and friends had a significantly higher probability of clinically significant depressive symptoms 2 years later than those having in-person contact once or twice per month or per week. Older age, interpersonal conflict, and depression at baseline moderated some of the effects of social contact on depressive symptoms.