Recent PhD Jonathan Koltai and Professor Markus Schafer on Cancer Diagnosis, Mental Health, and Social Networks

May 16, 2018 by Nico Golinski

PhD Candidate Jonathan Koltai and Professor Markus Schafer published an article in Society and Mental Health that examines whether social networks moderate the impact of a cancer diagnosis on mental health among older adults. They find that larger networks are associated with lower rates of depressive symptoms among female survivors, but find little evidence that closeness or density of networks have a moderating effect.

Jonathan Koltai received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. He is currently a postdoctoral  Researcher in Social Epidemiology at Bocconi University. The research for his dissertation examines organizational contexts of inter-role conflict and worker well-being. Markus Schafer is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Toronto St. George and his research focuses on health and aging.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Schafer, Markus H. and Johnathan Koltai. 2015. "Cancer Diagnosis and Mental Health Among Older White Adults: Moderating Role for Social Networks?" Society and Mental Health 5(3):182-202.

Cancer is a life-changing condition for many American seniors, and a growing body of literature is assessing the mental health implications of living with the disease. This article builds from the well-known buffering hypothesis with insights from recent cancer research to investigate whether social networks moderate the association between cancer and mental health for older men and women. Analyses use two waves of survey data (2005-2006 and 2011) from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (N = 1,367), enabling us to track new diagnoses of cancer and network dynamics over time. Consistent with a stress-buffering pattern, larger and growing networks were associated with lower rates of depressive symptomology among women survivors relative to those with small and shrinking networks. There was little evidence that emotional closeness to network members or density moderated the mental health consequences of cancer among men or women.

Read the full article here.