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Issues Ment Health Nurs. 1994 Jul-Aug;15(4):373-92.

Social support: conceptual and methodological issues for research in mental health nursing.


The concept of social support has been the focus of growing multidisciplinary interest over the past two decades. Nurses are interested in the role that social support plays in promoting mental health. As empirical research on social support has been addressed with more scientific rigor, many conceptual and measurement issues have emerged. The purpose of this paper is to review the predominant conceptual and measurement issues in the study of social support in mental health nursing. Lack of consensus on conceptual clarity and weakness of measurement of the concept of social support are discussed in relation to the two bodies of literature. Directions for the development of nursing knowledge and methodologic approaches for future nursing research on social support and mental health are proposed.

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