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Health Communication Research Measures


Edited By Do Kyun Kim and James W. Dearing

This volume presents state-of-the-art reporting on how to measure many of the key variables in health communication. While the focus is on quantitative measures, the editors argue that these measures are centrally important to the study of health communication. The chapters emphasize constructs, scales, and up-to-date reports and evidence about key social science constructs and ways of measuring them, whether your interest is in patient-provider dyadic communication, uncertainty management, self-efficacy, disclosure, social norms, social support, risk perception, health care team performance, message design and effects, health and numerical literacy, communication satisfaction, social influence and persuasion, stigma, health campaigns, reactance, or other topics. Students, researchers, and policymakers will find this book an accessible resource for planning and reviewing research studies and proposals.
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22. Social Support


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22. Social Support

STEPHEN A. RAINS,University of Arizona

Social support plays a central role in health and well-being (Cohen & Syme, 1985; Uchino, 2004). Despite widespread agreement about the benefits of social support, the way(s) in which it produces salutatory effects are not fully understood (Lakey & Cohen, 2000; Thoits, 2011). Support processes have been examined by scholars representing a range of disciplines from the social sciences to medicine. In this body of research, social support has been conceptualized and studied in a myriad of ways. This chapter considers measures of social support developed from four traditions that are particularly relevant to health communication. Social support is examined as behaviors enacted by others to provide physical or emotional assistance, perceptions that others are available to serve as a support resource, a preference for support from particular types of people, and specific messages shared with others. Each tradition is briefly reviewed and representative measures considered.

Measuring Social Support

Received Support

Research on received support focuses on the degree to which one has been the recipient of specific acts of assistance during a given time period. Such assistance is defined broadly and can include advice and information, comforting and empathy, as well as physical acts such as providing transportation or help with housework. Received support is thought to improve health by bolstering one’s coping efforts (Lakey & Cohen, 2000). The inventory of socially supportive...

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