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Soc Sci Med. 1987;25(9):1049-55.

Assessing social support in elderly adults.

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  • 1Regenstrief Institute for Health Care, Indianapolis, IN 46202.


We examined the relationship among stress, social support and health status in patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis. Further, we compared three approaches to measuring social support (i.e. objective measures, subjective indicators, and satisfaction). Generally, subjective, rather than objective, indicators of support were more strongly associated with satisfaction with the amount of support received. Regardless of how social support was assessed, we failed to find evidence that support buffers individuals from negative health-related consequences of exposure to stressors. Univariate analyses also demonstrated that being black, married, better educated, and having a higher income were positively associated with social support. Social support continues to be a complex concept in terms of its operational definition and identification of the mechanism by which it influences health outcomes.

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