Of interest to the field is the mechanism through which social support acts as a resistance resource for individuals undergoing stressful life circumstances. Women with advanced breast cancer (N = 86) were interviewed to determine how their outlook on life and social functioning were affected by the social support they received. Emotional support provided by the family was predicted to affect the woman's sense of well-being whereas the opportunities for social exchange provided by one's social activities were expected to effect the woman's social functioning. Consistent with the predictions, the data indicate that social support is multidimensional. Emotional support was strongly related to one's outlook. However, one's opportunities for social exchange affect not only one's social functioning, but also one's outlook on life, suggesting an interactive process whereby family support improves outlook, both outlook and opportunities for social exchange are related to one's sense of social functioning. These data explain the erosion of social support during life-threatening illness such as cancer as a result of the limitations imposed by the illness on one's opportunities for social exchange.
View details for Web of Science ID A1984TS31700009
View details for PubMedID 6505749