We examined the effects of (a) positive and negative life changes and (b) social support upon the self-reported health status of 187 elderly public housing tenants. Our interview included the Multilevel Assessment Instrument, from which we derived physical health and social support scores, and an evaluation of change in 14 areas. Experiencing change correlated inversely, although weakly, with health (R2 = .05); however, negative changes were more predictive of health status than were total changes (R2 = .25). In multivariate analyses, persons who were older and experienced more positive and less negative changes during the preceding year reported better health (R2 = .30). Social support had neither a direct nor interactive effect (with life change) upon health. We conclude that studies on life changes should separate positive from negative events. Also, more research on the measurement of social support for elderly adults is needed.
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