Social Support and Stress in Women With Breast Cancer
As research typically shows, in a recent study by researchers from Stanford University and Yale University, increased social support predicted decreased psychological distress. Of particular interest, however, was the prediction of social support from psychological distress and the relations between these two variables over time.
Women with breast cancer and their partners completed questionnaires at the time of surgery and 3 and 13 months afterward. The participants indicated that both social support and psychological distress seemed to decrease over time, and the difference between the patients' and their partners' judgments of the amount of social support available increased over time. Furthermore, although increased social support predicted decreased psychological distress, the relation between these two variables was circular. Psychological distress also predicted social support. The more psychological distress patients experienced, the less social support they received from their partners.
The findings from this study suggest that, although social support may reduce psychological distress, psychological distress itself may inhibit the likelihood of even receiving it in the first place.
Source: Moyer, A., & Salovey, P. (1999). Predictors of social support and psychological distress in women with breast cancer. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, 177-191.