Mechanisms Linking Social Ties and Support to Physical and Mental Health

  title={Mechanisms Linking Social Ties and Support to Physical and Mental Health},
  author={Peggy A. Thoits},
  journal={Journal of Health and Social Behavior},
  pages={145 - 161}
  • P. Thoits
  • Published 1 June 2011
  • Psychology
  • Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Over the past 30 years investigators have called repeatedly for research on the mechanisms through which social relationships and social support improve physical and psychological well-being, both directly and as stress buffers. I describe seven possible mechanisms: social influence/social comparison, social control, role-based purpose and meaning (mattering), self-esteem, sense of control, belonging and companionship, and perceived support availability. Stress-buffering processes also involve… 

Tables from this paper

Social Support and Physical Health: Models, Mechanisms, and Opportunities

Social support is defined as the perceived or actual receipt of social resources (e.g., tangible, emotional) and is one of the most reliable predictors of disease morbidity and mortality. In this

Social Support and Illness

It is well documented that social support protects an individual from the health-damaging effects of illnesses and enhances health. Social support is defined as the functions performed for an

Don't give up on social support: a topic of inquiry important for a healthy society.

In the face of growing evidence that lack of social support, as may be experienced with social isolation and loneliness, is associated with poor health outcomes investigators used social support indicators obtained at the beginning of the study, linking their effects to the experiences of adjudicated measures of CVD and all-cause mortality over the next decade.

The Social Support–Health Link Unraveled: Pathways Linking Social Support to Functional Capacity in Later Life

Because only initial levels of social support relate to functional capacity, and changes in social support do not, older adults likely receive the support they need.

Longitudinal associations of social support, everyday social interactions, and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Main effect models contend that perceived social support benefits mental health in the presence and the absence of stressful events, whereas stress-buffering models contend that perceived social

Social aggravation: Understanding the complex role of social relationships on stress and health-relevant physiology.

Social Relationships and Social Support

Social support is a construct that has been widely studied by members of the Mental Health Section of the American Sociological Association. The term social support, in contrast to social

Sources of social support and gender in perceived stress and individual adjustment among Latina/o college-attending emerging adults.

How social support helps Latina/o youth cope with stress and mitigate challenges associated with their college transition is highlighted, as well as how perceived stress and self-rated physical health are related indirectly and negatively through lower family support.

Reciprocal Support within Intimate Relationships: Examining the Association with Depression and Anxiety

Sociological research has established the importance of social support for mental health. Although social support is exchanged within relationships, most research on the relationship between support



Stress, coping, and social support processes: where are we? What next?

  • P. Thoits
  • Psychology
    Journal of health and social behavior
  • 1995
Comparing comparative analysis, optimal matching analysis, and event-structure analysis are new techniques which may help advance research in these broad topic areas and enhance the effectiveness of coping and social support interventions.

Psychosocial models of the role of social support in the etiology of physical disease.

  • S. Cohen
  • Psychology
    Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
  • 1988
Possible mechanisms through which support systems may influence the etiology of physical disease are outlined and conceptual and methodological guidelines for future research in this area are proposed.

The relationship between social support and physiological processes: a review with emphasis on underlying mechanisms and implications for health.

Recommendations and directions for future research include the importance of conceptualizing social support as a multidimensional construct, examination of potential mechanisms across levels of analyses, and attention to the physiological process of interest.

Parallels in the Study of Social Support and Social Strain

For most people, social relationships undoubtedly function more often as assets than as liabilities. Yet social relationships clearly can be a source of stress as well as support and companionship,

Structures and Processes of Social Support

This chapter reviews the recent literature on social support and health and its relation to preexisting research and theory in the areas of social networks and social integration. We identify crucial

Social factors in psychopathology: stress, social support, and coping processes.

This review has examined some of the important empirical results from recent studies of stress, support, and coping, and discussed ways in which these new understandings have informed long-standing attempts to explain group differences in emotional functioning.

Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis.

There is evidence consistent with both main effect and main effect models for social support, but each represents a different process through which social support may affect well-being.

Assessing and Strengthening the Impact of Social Support on Mental Health.

The author offers social work ers a set of guidelines to as sess the sources and types of social support that people use as first and direct lines of de fense in coping with life events and chronic

Understanding the Links Between Social Support and Physical Health: A Life-Span Perspective With Emphasis on the Separability of Perceived and Received Support

  • B. Uchino
  • Psychology
    Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science
  • 2009
A life-span perspective on social support and health that takes into account distinct antecedent processes and mechanisms that are related to measures of support over time is argued, highlighting the need to distinguish measures of perceived and received support and its links to more specific diseases.

The role of social relations in health promotion.

  • L. Berkman
  • Medicine, Psychology
    Psychosomatic medicine
  • 1995
Acknowledging that health promotion rests on the shoulders not only of individuals but also of their families and communities means that resources must be committed over the next decade to designing, testing, and implementing interventions in this area.