Social psychiatry

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 156–162 | Cite as

Dimensions of social support: a conceptual framework for research

  • Hans O. F. Veiel
Social Integration and Isolation


Despite the great number of recent studies on the nature and consequences of social support, the present state of knowledge in this area allows only the general conclusion that it somehow promotes mental and physical health. What it is, how it is provided and by whom, and how and under what conditions it affects health, are open questions. It is argued that it is the fallacious assumption of a single commodity “social support” which lies at the root of the present confusion, and that a multi-dimensional conceptual frame of reference is a necessity for further advancement in the field and for the development of effective assessment and intervention strategies. Such a differentiated framework is developed and shown to be consistent with the present state of empirical and theoretical knowledge. This framework is applied to the conceptual analysis of social support measures used in a number of frequently cited empirical studies, whose discrepant results are shown to derive from differences in the target area and specificity of the measures used.


Public Health Social Support Intervention Strategy Empirical Study Physical Health 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans O. F. Veiel
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Institute of Mental HealthMannheimFederal Republic of Germany

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