Social Networks and Social Support

Authored by: Thomas A. Wills , Michael G. Ainette

Handbook of Health Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780805864618
eBook ISBN: 9780203804100
Adobe ISBN: 9781136638299


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This chapter considers social networks and social support as predictive factors for health status. We cover the relation of social variables to morbidity, mortality, and recovery from illness. Over the past 30 years, research has shown that measures of social network structure, or perceived availability of supportive functions, are related to lower likelihood of morbidity or mortality, to higher levels of psychological well-being, and to lower levels of health-risk behavior (Cohen & Wills, 1985; Sandler, Miller, Short, & Wolchik, 1989; Seeman, 1996). Building on prior work (Wills & Filer, 2001), the present chapter includes research since 2000 on the relation of social support to health status. During this time there has been continued progress in understanding the breadth and nature of social support effects.

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