Egocentric network characteristics of persons with Type 1 Diabetes and their relationships to perceived social support and well-being

Tian Cheyne, Michael Smith, Thomas Pollet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The size of one's support network is positively related to health and well-being. It is therefore important to understand this association in people with Type 1 diabetes, as this could inform interventions. Moreover, the type of support (emotional, instrumental, informational) offered likely varies by gender of both the person seeking support and offering support. We thus examine the relationship between the composition of (perceived) social support networks and well-being in a sample of 121 persons with Type 1 diabetes. Design: An egocentric social network survey, combined with survey measures. Main outcome(s): The size and composition of support networks and well-being. Measures: Participants indicated the type of support individuals in their contact network offered and their gender, alongside measures of perceived social support and well-being. They indicated which individuals offered which types of support (emotional, instrumental, informational). Results: Perceived support was associated with the actual size of the emotional support network. Further, the size of the emotional support network was associated with well-being. Using multilevel models we examined assortment by gender in social support networks. Compared to women, men were more inclined to list the opposite gender as support, especially for emotional and informational support. Conclusion: Mapping out an individual’s multidimensional support network paints a more complete picture of support than single item measures of support. We therefore recommend relying on a social network methodology to gain a more complete understanding of support networks. The findings highlight that an association exists between emotional network size and wellbeing. Given the potential implications of this finding for the quality of life of diabetes patients, it is important to establish the causality of this relationship.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2021

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