Social support can be categorized and measured in several different ways. There are four common functions of social support: Received support also called enacted support refers to specific supportive actions e. Support from a romantic partner is associated with health benefits, particularly for men.
Abstract Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation e.
Studies show that social relationships have short- and long-term effects on health, for better and for worse, and that these effects emerge in childhood and cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health. This article describes key research themes in the study of social relationships and health, and it highlights policy implications suggested by this research.
Social isolation of otherwise healthy, well-functioning individuals eventually results in psychological and physical disintegration, and even death. Over the past few decades, social scientists have gone beyond evidence of extreme social deprivation to demonstrate a clear link between social relationships and health in the general population.
Adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers. This article describes major findings in the study of social relationships and health, and how that knowledge might be Social support and health and well into policy that promotes population health.
Key research findings include: Social scientists have studied several distinct features of social connection offered by relationships Smith and Christakis Social isolation refers to the relative absence of social relationships.
Social integration refers to overall level of involvement with informal social relationships, such as having a spouse, and with formal social relationships, such as those with religious institutions and volunteer organizations.
Quality of relationships includes positive aspects of relationships, such as emotional support provided by significant others, and strained aspects of relationships, such as conflict and stress. Social networks refer to the web of social relationships surrounding an individual, in particular, structural features, such as the type and strength of each social relationship.
Each of these aspects of social relationships affects health. The most striking evidence comes from prospective studies of mortality across industrialized nations. These studies consistently show that individuals with the lowest level of involvement in social relationships are more likely to die than those with greater involvement House, Landis, and Umberson For example, Berkman and Syme showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties.
Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account. Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummett and colleagues found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of subsequent cardiac death 2.
In addition to mortality, involvement in social relationships has been associated with specific health conditions as well as biological markers indicating risk of preclinical conditions. Several recent review articles provide consistent and compelling evidence linking a low quantity or quality of social ties with a host of conditions, including development and progression of cardiovascular disease, recurrent myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, autonomic dysregulation, high blood pressure, cancer and delayed cancer recovery, and slower wound healing Ertel, Glymour, and Berkman ; Everson-Rose and Lewis ; Robles and Kiecolt-Glaser ; Uchino Poor quality and low quantity of social ties have also been associated with inflammatory biomarkers and impaired immune function, factors associated with adverse health outcomes and mortality Kiecolt-Glaser et al.
Marriage is perhaps the most studied social tie. Recent work shows that marital history over the life course shapes a range of health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, chronic conditions, mobility limitations, self-rated health, and depressive symptoms Hughes and Waite ; Zhang and Hayward Once the clear link between social relationships and health was established, scientists devoted themselves to explaining how this occurs.
Generally speaking, there are three broad ways that social ties work to influence health: Behavioral Explanations Health behaviors encompass a wide range of personal behaviors that influence health, morbidity, and mortality. In fact, health behavior explains about 40 percent of premature mortality as well as substantial morbidity and disability in the United States McGinnis, Williams-Russo, and Knickman Some of these health behaviors—such as exercise, consuming nutritionally balanced diets, and adherence to medical regimens—tend to promote health and prevent illness, while other behaviors—such as smoking, excessive weight gain, drug abuse, and heavy alcohol consumption—tend to undermine health.
Many studies provide evidence that social ties influence health behavior see a review in Umberson, Crosnoe, and Reczek Being married Waitehaving children Denneyand ties to religious organizations Musick, House, and Williams have all been linked to positive health behaviors although, notably, as we will discuss below, marriage and parenthood have also been associated with behaviors that are not beneficial to health—including physical inactivity and weight gain.
Religious ties also appear to influence health behavior, in part, through social control Ellison and Levin Social ties can instill a sense of responsibility and concern for others that then lead individuals to engage in behaviors that protect the health of others, as well as their own health.
Social ties provide information and create norms that further influence health habits. Thus, in a variety of ways, social ties may influence health habits that in turn affect physical health and mortality.
Psychosocial Explanations Research across disciplines and populations suggests possible psychosocial mechanisms to explain how social ties promote health. Mechanisms include but are not limited to: While most studies focus on only one or two of these mechanisms, it is clear that connections between mechanisms are complex, and that these interconnections may explain the linkage between social ties and health better than any single mechanism Thoits ; Umberson et al.
Social support refers to the emotionally sustaining qualities of relationships e. Hundreds of studies establish that social support benefits mental and physical health Cohen ; Uchino Social support may have indirect effects on health through enhanced mental health, by reducing the impact of stress, or by fostering a sense of meaning and purpose in life Cohen ; Thoits Supportive social ties may trigger physiological sequelae e.Social support has been linked to many benefits for both physical and mental health, but "social support" (e.g., gossiping about friends) is not always beneficial.
Social support theories and models were prevalent as intensive academic studies in the s and s  , and are linked to the development of caregiving and payment models. Social Support Networks and Maternal Mental Health and Well-Being ALEXANDRA B.
BALAJI, Ph.D., ANGELIKA H. CLAUSSEN, Ph.D., health and well-being. The implications of these findings and future research directions are received social support, noting that there is a rel-.
Social Media. An increasingly popular way of connecting with others is through social media. While it does not, and should not, replace face-to-face interactions, social media can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with others and staying up-to-date on current events and trends.
Social Support Definition. In general, social support refers to the various ways in which individuals aid others.
|MacArthur SES & Health Network | Research||Getting and Staying Connected Social Support:|
Social support has been documented as playing an important and positive role in the health and well-being of individuals. When looking at research on social support and health behaviors, many studies report positive effects of support for health behavior. When we take a closer look, however, we find that many of these studies focus on the first kind of support described above, perceived support.
When looking at research on social support and health behaviors, many studies report positive effects of support for health behavior. When we take a closer look, however, we find that many of these studies focus on the first kind of support described above, perceived support.