Social Support Theory in Nursing – Research Paper Example

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Introduction In nursing, middle range theories are bodies of knowledge used to support the nursing practice, which are testable and as such, containa limited number of variables and are thus also limited in terms of their scope (Peterson & Bredow, 2008). However, its mere nature of generality makes it useful enough to be used in a number of different clinical research questions that involve the nursing practice. Because of its nature, middle range theories are often found in a number of researches and studies aimed at providing additional information regarding the nursing profession. One such theory is the Theory of Social Support, which looks into the individual’s “needs for intimacy, social integration, nurturing of others, reassurance of personal worth, steady source of alliance, and guidance” (Weiss, 1974 in Sieloff, Frey, & King, 2007).

The role of social support in the health care profession is well accepted and has been shown to provide a certain degree of assistance in terms of alleviation of a number of illnesses and diseases (Sieloff, Frey, & King, 2007). However, there are also still a number of pathological fields that have yet to explore the efficacy of social support in terms of alleviations of symptoms and general recovery. Along these lines, this paper explores the hypothesis, “A social support group for people with diabetes will increase their medication compliance, ” within the boundaries of relevant concepts, particularly social support.

A total of eight articles are reviewed in this paper, offering insights on the population and sample, background literature, and significance of earlier studies made in support of the mid-range theory of social support. Some of these articles cover the theory of social support and its perceived effects on people with diabetes, while others focus on a more general application of the theory on other diseases and medical conditions. The conceptual definitions of social support in nursing researches are largely the same, varying only in terms of the degree of intimacy that researchers agree upon.

Operational definitions of social support, however, differ depending on the focus and the extent of the study. Different populations were used in the studies investigating the effects of the existence of a social support group.

Since the particular hypothesis herein focuses on people with diabetes, the population utilized for a majority of the researches included in this review involves diabetic patients Social support: Review of Related Literature In a study by Patterson and Brewer (2009), social support was defined as “the informational, instrumental / practical, emotional, and affirmational resources that people can receive from others” (p.


Barrera, M., Glasgow, R., McKay, G., Boles, S., & Feil, E. (2002). Do internet-based support interventions change perceptions of social support?: An experimental trial of approaches for supporting diabetes self-management. American Journal of Community Psychology , 30, 637-656.

Di Matteo, M. R. (2004). Social support and patient adherence to medical treatment: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology , 23, 207-218.

Goz, E., Karaoz, S., Goz, M., Ekiz, S., & Cetin, I. (2005). Effects of the diabetic patients perceived social support on their quality of life. Journal of Clinical Nursing , 16, 1353 - 1360.

Heisler, M., Vijan, S., Makki, F., & Piette, J. (2010). Diabetes control with reciprocal peer support versus nurse care management: A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine , 153, 507-515.

Idalski, C., Ellis, D., Weisz, A., & Naar-King, S. (2011). Social support for diabetes illness management: Supporting adolescents and caregivers. Journal of Developmental Behavior in Pediatrics , 32, 581-590.

Patterson, B., & Brewer, J. (2009). Needs for social support among parents of adolescents with diabetes. Journal of Nursing and Healthcare of Chronic Illness , 1, 177-185.

Peterson, S., & Bredow, T. (2008). Middle range theories: Application to nursing research. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Sieloff, C., Frey, M., & King, I. (2007). Middle range theory development using Kings conceptual system. Springer Publishing Company.

Skinner, T. C., John, M., & Hampson, S. (2000). Social support and personal models of diabetes as predictors of self-care and well-Being: A longitudinal study of adolescents with diabetes. Journal of Pediatric Psyhology , 25, 257-267.

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