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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1997 Jul;52(4):S200-11.

Social support and depressive symptoms: differential patterns in wife and daughter caregivers.

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  • 1Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.


This cross-sectional study examined how three types of social support-social participation, emotional support, and caregiving support-were related to depressive symptoms in wives caring for their elderly husband and daughters caring for their elderly parent. We investigated whether different dimensions of social support affect mental health via different mechanisms and whether the context in which the support is needed and received will temper its effects. We found that social participation had a main effect on depressive symptoms for daughters but not for wives. Emotional support buffered the stress emanating from the husband's behavior problems for wives. For daughters, emotional support buffered the stress emanating from both the behavior problems and the ADL/IADL limitations of the parent care recipient. Using caregiving as the example, our data suggested that social support does not have uniform effects; rather, the type of stressor, the type of social support, and the individual context interact to result in the specific effect of support.

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