This paper provides a sociological overview of the concept of social capital and explores how it is related to the notion of health. The theoretical section of the study addresses the issue of an operational definition of social capital and conducts detailed analysis of the dimensions and forms of the concept that stand out in terms of importance in the field of health research. It also takes into consideration the most significant causal mechanisms identified between social capital and health outcomes. The empirical part of the paper features analysis of data on the connection between social capital and self-perceived health, collected during the first survey conducted in Italy by the Osservatorio sulle Strategie di Consumo delle Famiglie (Observatory on Consumption Strategies in the Family). The survey shows that community social capital, generally expressed in terms of family trust, may, depending on the subject’s social milieu of origin, not play any role in determining the level of self-perceived health in Italy. Alternatively, it may play either of two roles, acting as a multiplier or a substitute with regard to positive causal processes determined by parameters of a socio-demographic nature.
Keywords: Social capital, health, health outcome, personal network, welfare system, self-perceived health, trust.