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Identification and Investigation of Properties of Social Support

Nancy J. McIntosh
Journal of Organizational Behavior
Vol. 12, No. 3 (May, 1991), pp. 201-217
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2488409
Page Count: 17
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Identification and Investigation of Properties of Social Support
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Abstract

In response to the charge by House and Kahn (1985) that there is lack of specificity in conceptualization and measurement of the social support construct, this paper suggests the need to identify and specifically measure discrete properties of the previously identified dimensions (type and source) of social support. Properties are defined as what it is about combinations of source and type that needs to be measured. Based on literature reviews it is suggested that the relevant properties are amount of support, adequacy of support and number of providers of support. Measures are developed for each property. Data from 186 nurses were used to assess main and moderating effects of social support properties, workload and dying patients on emotional exhaustion and physical symptoms. As predicted, support adequacy was related to perceptions of lower workload. As single predictors, amount and adequacy of support reduced physical symptoms and emotional exhaustion. With amount and adequacy controlled, number of providers increased emotional exhaustion. Amount buffered the relationship between death and emotional exhaustion. Moderate levels of adequacy and number buffered the relationship between workload and exhaustion. Both adequacy and amount of support assisted in coping with patient death. In addition, a number of 'reverse' buffering and coping relationships were found. It was concluded that examination of different properties of social support increases our understanding of the impact of social support, and that further research needs to examine the simultaneous effects of various combinations of property, type and source of social support.

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