Get access

Rural men's subjective well-being and the role of social support and sense of community: Evidence for the potential benefit of enhancing informal networks


Stephanie M. Kutek, Level 4, Hughes Building, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia. Email:


Objective: To examine the effects of social support and sense of community on rural men's subjective well-being, considering the main effects and stress-buffer models.

Design: Cross-sectional population-based survey, non-probability sampling frame primarily convenience sampling.

Setting: Community-based setting.

Participants: A total of 185 men aged 18+ years from rural South Australia.

Main outcome measures: Subjective well-being, measured by the Satisfaction With Life Scale.

Results: Two-step hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted, with subjective well-being as the dependent variable, controlling for independent variables of age, living alone and farm employment. Social support was the most effective predictor of well-being, followed by stress, and only a very modest contribution from sense of community; total variance explained was 56% (F(6,178) = 37.77, P < 0.001, R2 = 0.56, adjusted R2 = 0.55, R2 change = 0.07, P < 0.001). Stress partially mediated both the social support/well-being and sense of community/well-being relationships (mediation analysis).

Conclusions: Results demonstrated the benefits of social support on well-being using the stress-buffer and main effects models, within a sample of rural men, and explored the relatively unexamined relationship between sense of community and well-being. Rural men have considerable stress impacting their well-being. This study identifies that it is critical for individuals, organisations and policy makers to be aware of the capacity of both social supports and sense of community to buffer stress and promote well-being within rural men. Furthermore, structural, community-based approaches might have greater capacity to cost-effectively provide this support, contrasting with the growing trend towards individual-based approaches for mental health.