Social support for women during chronic illness: the relationship among sources and types to adjustment

Res Nurs Health. 1990 Jun;13(3):153-61. doi: 10.1002/nur.4770130304.


The purpose of this study was to explore who in the network provided what type of support in relation to psychosocial adjustment for women experiencing chronic illness. The Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire was administered to 125 chronically ill women, along with measures of depression (CES-D), family illness demands (Demands of Illness Inventory), marital quality (Spanier Dyadic Adjustment Scale), and family functioning (FACES-II). Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to examine the average amount of support from four main sources: partner, family, friends, and others. Women perceived more support from the partner than from any other source. Family members provided more affective support than friends or others. Friends provided more affirmation than family or others. After the partner, women reported confiding about their illness more to health care providers, counselors, or religious personnel than family or friends. Pearson correlation coefficients were computed for the amount of support from each source and the measures of individual, dyadic, or family adjustment. In general, affect, affirmation, and reciprocity from both the partner and family were associated with less depression, higher marital quality, and better family functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires