The influence of social support on chronic illness self-management: a review and directions for research

Health Educ Behav. 2003 Apr;30(2):170-95. doi: 10.1177/1090198102251030.


A review of the empirical literature examining the relationship between social support and chronic illness self-management identified 29 articles, of which 22 were quantitative and 7 were qualitative. The majority of research in this area concerns diabetes self-management, with a few studies examining asthma, heart disease, and epilepsy management. Taken together, these studies provide evidence for a modest positive relationship between social support and chronic illness self-management, especially for diabetes. Dietary behavior appears to be particularly susceptible to social influences. In addition, social network members have potentially important negative influences on self-management There is a need to elucidate the underlying mechanisms by which support influences self-management and to examine whether this relationship varies by illness, type of support, and behavior. There is also a need to understand how the social environment may influence self-management in ways other than the provision of social support

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Sick Role
  • Social Support*