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Article
April 1986

Social Support and Life Events in Working Class WomenStress Buffering or Independent Effects?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine, Southampton, United Kingdom (Ms Parry); and the MRC/ESRC Social and Applied Psychology Unit, The University, Sheffield, United Kingdom (Dr Shapiro).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(4):315-323. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800040021004
Abstract

• Several authors have suggested that social support reduces the risk of psychiatric disorder by providing a "buffer" against the adverse effects of stressful events. Others have proposed, in contrast, that social support is beneficial irrespective of life stress. We addressed this issue in a community survey of 193 working class mothers by measuring social support, threatening life events, psychiatric symptomatology, and psychological well-being via a detailed assessment combining a standardized interview and case-identification procedure with self-report questionnaires yielding continuous measures of distress and well-being. Subject selection minimized confounding between support and events. The effects of life stress and social support were found to be largely independent of one another, although detailed analysis suggested that the conclusions drawn in such studies are affected by the measures and statistics used.

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