Social support is a multi-faceted concept that has been difficult to conceptualize, define and measure. Although this concept has been extensively studied, there is little agreement among theoreticians and researchers as to its theoretical and operational definition. As a result, the concept remains fuzzy and almost anything that infers a social interaction may be considered social support. Social support researchers have consistently ignored the complexity of the concept and have measured the variable in a simplistic manner. The purpose of this article is to analyse the linkage between theory and research related to social support by categorizing definitions of social support, exploring the theoretical aspects and conceptualizations of the concept, proposing models of social support, and examining how social support is measured in current social support research (1993-1996). The inadequacy of current research and directions for future study are discussed.
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