Individual social capital, compositional quality, health survey, position generator


Community Health | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion


Beneficial social connections are critical to individual-level health because they can be used to avoid or minimize the risks and consequences associated with diseases. How to best measure beneficial social connections to inform social network-level health interventions remains poorly understood. A scoping review of health surveillance studies was conducted to highlight the utility of employing position generators to assess how access to beneficial social connections was associated with population health and disparities. Our review yielded 39 articles conducted across 14 predominantly high-income countries. Most studies (77%) with composite measures for beneficial social connections exhibited health-protective associations. Of the remaining articles, half found that greater diversity within one’s network was associated with positive health outcomes. Only eight articles accounted for differences by advantaged statuses, indicating that beneficial connections elicited greater health-protective associations among disadvantaged groups. Employing position generators may inform interventions that seek to reduce health disparities by enhancing social capital in individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.