Psychological distress, social support and social support seeking: a prospective study among primary mental health care patients
Eurelings-Bontekoe, E.H.; Diekstra, R.F.; Verschuur, M.
Social Science and Medicine 40(8): 1083-1089
ISSN/ISBN: 0277-9536 PMID: 7597461 DOI: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)00182-s
This study addresses the time ordering of both quantitative and qualitative social support variables, social support seeking and psychological distress. Number of contacts, perceived understanding, satisfaction, severity of network conflicts, social support seeking and symptomatology were assessed at two points in time: at the start of a short term behavioural therapy (T1) and six months later (T2). Severity of symptomatology at T2 was best predicted by the severity of symptomatology at referral and by the change in interpersonal problems. Social support-seeking was at both measurements unrelated to symptomatology. The number of contacts, satisfaction, understanding and social support seeking demonstrated high temporal stability, in contrast to symptomatology and interpersonal problems. A more fine-grained analysis demonstrated that of all social support variables, interpersonal conflicts were most strongly related to symptomatology, especially to interpersonal sensitivity and depression. It is concluded that interventions aimed in particular at relieving interpersonal sensitivity and interpersonal stress and at fostering interpersonal effectiveness may prove to be critical in breaking vicious circles.