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Social Support in Health Communication

Neeraj K. Arora

Subject Medicine
Communication Studies » Health Communication

Key-Topics health , stress

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Interest in social support as an important determinant of people's health stemmed from a number of influential papers published in the 1970s (e.g., Cobb 1976 ). These early writings suggested that people's interpersonal relationships with members of their →  social network can reduce the negative impact of stress on their health. The specific mechanisms by which these relationships buffer the impact of stress were collectively termed “social support” ( Wortman 1984 ). Four types of supportive behaviors have been commonly described as dimensions of social support ( House 1981 ): Emotional support involves demonstration of empathy, reassurance, love, and caring. Informational support involves provision of information that individuals may find helpful in dealing with stressful situations; this typically refers to information that is useful for problem-solving. Appraisal support refers to provision of information that is more relevant for self-appraisal, including provision of constructive feedback and affirmation about the appropriateness of beliefs or acts of another individual facing a stressful situation. Instrumental support involves provision of tangible goods and services to aid individuals in need. While a majority of the literature focuses on behaviors such as helping with daily chores or assisting with transportation, instrumental support can also include assistance ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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