Social Support and Physical Health: Links and Mechanisms

  • Tara L. GruenewaldEmail author
  • Teresa E. Seeman


A lack of social connections has long been noted as a risk factor for poor physical health outcomes. A burgeoning body of research also suggests that the positive or negative qualities of our social relationships are linked to our physical well-being. We review evidence for the salutary benefits of both giving and receiving social support. We also highlight potential health risks associated with negative relationship qualities, such as relationships characterized by conflicts and demands. The potential psychological, behavioral, and physiological pathways through which qualitative relationship characteristics may influence physical well-being are reviewed, as are individual difference factors which may moderate associations between social support and health. We conclude with a discussion of the successes and failures that have been observed in intervention research and provide some recommendations for future advances in our understanding of how the quality of our social relationships can impact our physical health.


Social Support Potential Health Benefit Physical Health Outcome Supportive Quality Lower Mortality Risk 
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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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Division of GeriatricsUCLA School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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