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Health Educ Behav. 2003 Apr;30(2):170-95.

The influence of social support on chronic illness self-management: a review and directions for research.

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Department of Health Policy, Management, & Behavior, School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer 12144-3456, USA.


A review of the empirical literature examining the relationship between social support and chronic illness self-management identified 29 articles, of which 22 were quantitative and 7 were qualitative. The majority of research in this area concerns diabetes self-management, with a few studies examining asthma, heart disease, and epilepsy management. Taken together, these studies provide evidence for a modest positive relationship between social support and chronic illness self-management, especially for diabetes. Dietary behavior appears to be particularly susceptible to social influences. In addition, social network members have potentially important negative influences on self-management There is a need to elucidate the underlying mechanisms by which support influences self-management and to examine whether this relationship varies by illness, type of support, and behavior. There is also a need to understand how the social environment may influence self-management in ways other than the provision of social support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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