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Qual Health Res. 2004 Sep;14(7):942-60.

Defining social support in context: a necessary step in improving research, intervention, and practice.

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Department of Public Health, University of Adelaide, South Australia.


A substantial body of work on the concept of social support has resulted in many definitions, but none have been accepted as definitive. The lack of consensus about the definition of social support has resulted in a lack of consistency and comparability among studies. More important, the validity of any study attempting to measure or influence social support is undermined by the use of generic definitions, which lack contextual sensitivity. In this article concept analysis is used to evaluate definitions of social support to ascertain their utility for research. The authors argue that a contextualized approach to the definition of social support is necessary to improve clarity in research, and results in interventions or practices that are useful. They also assert that the development of a contextualized definition of social support requires qualitative methods to explore the meaning of social support with groups of people for whom intervention research is ultimately intended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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