Objective: Social support has been linked to beneficial effects on health directly (main effect) and as a buffer to stress. Most research, however, has examined these relationships using global and retrospective assessments of health and stress, which may be subject to recall biases. This study used ambulatory ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methods to test the main and stress-buffering effects of social support on the daily health and well-being of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.Design: Community volunteers with asthma (n = 97) or RA (n = 31) responded to EMA prompts five times daily for one week.Main outcomes: Baseline perceived social support was obtained, and then, participants reported mood, stress and symptoms using EMA. Multilevel mixed-modelling examined whether social support predicted mood and symptoms directly or via stress-reducing effects.Results: Supporting a main effect, more perceived social support predicted decreased negative mood and stress severity. Supporting a stress-buffering effect, more perceived social support resulted in fewer reported symptoms when stress was present.Conclusion: Results suggest perceived social support directly relates to better ambulatory status and dynamically buffers individuals against the negative effects of stressors, and highlight the importance of studying social support across different temporal and contextual levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health