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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2001 Jul;56(4):S249-56.

Social support and caregiver distress: a replication analysis.

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Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



Prior studies have conceptualized and operationalized social support in different ways, making it difficult to determine if the inconsistencies in findings are due to differences in study design, samples, conceptualization, or measurement. The present study examined the replicability of models of social support and caregiver distress across 4 community-based caregiving studies representative of many conducted in the past 10 years. The goal was to identify areas of consistency in findings across the data sets.


The authors analyzed 3 models specifying patterns of relationship between social support and depression (main effect, mediation effect, and moderation effect) separately within data sets using hierarchical ordinary least squares regression. Results were compared across data sets.


The replication analysis confirmed the robustness of behavior problems and caregiver health as important contributors to caregiver distress. Results of hypotheses examining the pattern of relationship between social support and distress were inconsistent, however. Only 1 type of social support was associated with distress in the expected direction: Less emotional support was associated with higher levels of distress in 2 of the 4 data sets.


More complex theoretical models that incorporate common measures to represent the linkages between types of stressor, types of support, and their interactions are needed to foster replicability and generalizability of research results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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