This article provides an overview of our ongoing program of research on the provision of social support following various stressful life events, including chronic illness, bereavement, and relationship dissolution. Results are discussed in terms of three primary questions: (a) How are significant others affected by the stressors or losses experienced by the support recipient? (b) What factors are associated with the provision of both helpful and unhelpful support? and (c) What is the relation between the type and amount of support offered by a significant other and the support recipient's adjustment? With regard to the first question, our studies suggest that support providers are not immune to the stress of the loss experienced by the support recipient and in fact report more stress in some areas than do support recipients. Second, the provision of both helpful and unhelpful support seems to be more a function of the support providers' distress levels than of a lack of knowledge about what kind of support is helpful and unhelpful. Specifically, providers who are more distressed, and who use less effective strategies for coping with stress, provide fewer helpful (e.g., allowing the recipient to express feelings) and more unhelpful (e.g., minimizing the recipient's problems) support behaviors. Third, helpful and unhelpful support make independent contributions to the prediction of adjustment over time, after controlling for prior symptoms and perceptions of general support. We conclude with a discussion of the clinical implications of our research.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Journal of Loss and Trauma|
|State||Published - Jan 1996|