More Than Just Friends – Part I

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Whether you are a caregiver or a patient with acid reflux, I want to remind you of the importance of social support as it relates to health and well-being. In the first part of this blog, I will write about social support in general. In Part II, I will introduce you, or at least remind you, of one group of individuals who may be extremely important in providing essential social support.

    There is substantial evidence that supports the idea that social ties play an important role in recovering from illness. Researchers have looked at all different types of illness when they have come to this conclusion. For example, in one study, researchers looked at the recovery of patients undergoing heart surgery and actually measured the number of visits from the spouse. Those who received a high level of visits (social support) reported less pain and were discharged sooner after their surgery than those patients with lower levels of support.
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    Scientists have also looked at the relationship between social support and depression of the caregiver. For example, in one study, researchers studied parents caring for children infected with the HIV virus. They found that social support can ease caregiver stress and can also improve how the parents cope.

    The same goes with social help received by support groups. In one study, researchers looked at parents of offspring with mental illness. The results revealed that caregiver burden was significantly lower among support group participants.

    Finally, there is the common-sense understanding of the importance of social support. Whether it is tackling a tough home project or taking care of a chronically ill family member, having the right folks around in a tough situation can make things easier. And if carefully chosen, might even add a bit of welcomed humor in a seemingly impossible situation.
Published On: February 21, 2007