Quality of Life Research

, Volume 12, Supplement 1, pp 25–31 | Cite as

Social support and quality of life

  • Vicki S. Helgeson


Social support is a broad term, which includes the supportive ways that different people behave in the social environment. Structural measures of the environment deal with the mere existence of social relationships. Functional measures refer to the resources that people within an individual's social network provide. Structural support shows a linear relation to quality of life; the functional aspects of support demonstrate the stress-buffering hypothesis. One of the main focuses of this article is to help researchers determine what aspects of social relationships or what types of support need to be measured and to consider the mechanisms by which support might influence quality of life. Also addressed is how to translate the correlational research on social support and quality of life into the field of support interventions, taking into account individual and situational differences.


Public Health Social Support Social Network Social Relationship Linear Relation 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cohen S, Willis TA. Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychol Bull 1985; 98: 310–357.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cutrona CE. Stress and social support-in search of optimal matching. J Soc Clin Psychol 1990; 9: 3–14.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Helgeson VS. Two important distinctions in social support: Kind of support and perceived vs. received. J Appl Soc Psychol 1993; 23: 825–845.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jacobson DE. Types and timing of social support. J Health Soc Behav 1986; 27: 250–264.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mickelson KD, Helgeson VS, Weiner E. Gender effects on social support provision and receipt. Pers Relationships 1995; 2: 211–224.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Peters-Golden H. Breast cancer: Varied perceptions of social support in the illness experience. Soc Sci Med 1982; 16: 483–491.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dakof GA, Taylor SE. Victim's perceptions of social support: What is helpful from whom? J Pers Soc Psych 1990; 58: 80–89.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Carpenter EM, Kirkpatrick LA. Attachment style and presence of a romantic partner as moderators of psychophysiological responses to a stressful laboratory situation. Pers Relationships 1996; 3: 351–367.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lepore SJ. Cynicism, social support, and cardiovascular reactivity. Health Psychol 1995; 14(3): 210–216.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Helgeson VS, Cohen S. Social support and adjustment to cancer: Reconciling descriptive, correlational, and intervention research. Health Psychol 1996; 15: 135–148.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Helgeson VS, Gottleib BH. Support groups. In: Cohen S, Underwood LG, Gottlieb BH (eds), Social Support Measurement and Intervention: A Guide for Healthand Social Scientists, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000; 221–245.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Spiegel D, Bloom JR, Kraemer HC, Gottheil E. Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Lancet 1989; 2: 888–891.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kelley JA, Murphy DA, Bahr R, et al. Outcome of cognitive-behavioral and support group brief therapies for depressed, HIV infected persons. Am J Psychiatry 1993; 150(11): 1679–1686.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bourgeois MS, Schulz R. Intervention for caregivers of patients withAlzh eimer's disease: A review and analysis of content, process, and outcomes. Int J Aging Hum Dev 1996; 43(1): 35–92.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lavoie JP. Support groups for informal caregivers don't work! Refocus the groups or the evaluations? Can J Aging 1995; 14(3): 580–595.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mittelman SM, Ferris SH, Shulman E, Steinberg G, Ambinder A, Mackell JA. A comprehensive support program: Effect on depression in spouse-caregivers of AD patients. Gerontologist 1995; 35(6); 792–802.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cowan CP, Cowan PA. A preventative intervention for couples becoming parents. In: Boukydis CFZ (ed.), Researchon Support for Parents and Infants in the Postnatal Period, New York: Ablex, 1986; 225–251.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hughes R Jr. Divorce and social support: A review. J Divorce 1988; 11(3/4): 123–145.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Coates D, Winston T. Counteracting the deviance of depression: Peer support groups for victims. J Soc Issues 1983; 39: 169–194.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicki S. Helgeson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations