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Open Access Research article

Relationships among sense of coherence, resources, and mental health in urban and rural residents in Japan

Yoko Sumikawa Tsuno1* and Yoshihiko Yamazaki2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, Toho University, Tokyo, Japan

2 Faculty of Social Welfare, Nihon Fukushi University, Aichi, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1107  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1107

Published: 23 December 2012

Abstract

Background

The salutogenic model states that coping resources are defined within sociocultural and historical contexts and that various social and historical factors influence the availability of such resources. Though previous studies have suggested the need for an interregional comparison of psychological and social resources, few studies have undertaken such an investigation. The aim of this study is to investigate the associations among coping resources, sense of coherence (SOC), and health status in a comparison of urban and rural residents.

Methods

General residents (aged 30–69 years) in two areas were targeted for the current study. Through a random sampling selection, 1,000 residents from each area were picked, and an anonymous questionnaire was mailed to each resident. Ultimately, 269 and 363 valid responses from the urban and rural areas, respectively, were analyzed. SOC, both social and psychological resources, and mental health were assessed. To examine relationships between SOC and resources associated with mental health, mental health was defined as a dependent variable. Hierarchical multiple regression was conducted with variables entered from sociodemographic characteristics, social and psychological resources, and SOC.

Results

Regarding regional characteristics, social capital and participation in community activities were significantly greater in the rural area than in the urban area. Urban residents reported significantly higher self-esteem and optimism than rural residents. SOC showed the most significant association with mental health in both areas. Mental health was significantly associated with physical activity limitations and life stressors in both areas. However, the associations were weakened when social and psychological resources and SOC were added, which demonstrated their buffering effect on the negative influence of life stressors on health. When SOC was added, the association of self-esteem with mental health disappeared in both areas, but optimism in the urban area and humor in the rural area were directly and independently associated with mental health.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that resources available to urban and rural residents are characteristic of the area where they live, and that social and psychological resources as well as SOC are associated with better mental health. Possible directions for health support strategies, reflecting regional characteristics, are suggested.

Keywords:
Sense of Coherence; Salutogenic model; Regional differences; Coping resources; Mental health; Population-based study; Japan