Understanding the social lives of South Asian immigrants in the United States (U.S) and their influence on health can inform interpersonal and community-level health interventions for this growing community. This paper describe the rationale, survey design, measurement, and network properties of 700 South Asian individuals in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) social networks ancillary study.
MASALA is a community-based cohort, established in 2010, to understand risk factors for cardiovascular disease among South Asians living in the U.S. Survey data collection on personal social networks occurred between 2014 and 2017. Network measurements included size, composition, density, and organizational affiliations. Data on participants' self-rated health and social support functions and health-related discussions among network members were also collected.
Participants' age ranged from 44 to 84 (average 59 years), and 57% were men. South Asians had large (size=5.6, SD=2.6), kin-centered (proportion kin=0.71, SD=0.28), and dense networks. Affiliation with religious and spiritual organizations was perceived as beneficial to health. Emotional closeness with network members was positively associated with participants' self-rated health (p-value <0.001), and networks with higher density and more kin were significantly associated with health-related discussions.
The MASALA networks study advances research on the cultural patterning of social relationships and sources of social support in South Asians living in the U.S. Future analyses will examine how personal social networks and organizational affiliations influence South Asians' health behaviors and outcomes.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02268513.