Support for this publication is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through a grant, “Exploring the Concept of Positive Health”, to the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Seligman, project director.
Social Relations, Health Behaviors, and Health Outcomes: A Survey and Synthesis
Article first published online: 20 DEC 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2012 The International Association of Applied Psychology
Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being
Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 28–78, March 2013
How to Cite
Tay, L., Tan, K., Diener, E. and Gonzalez, E. (2013), Social Relations, Health Behaviors, and Health Outcomes: A Survey and Synthesis. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 5: 28–78. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12000
- Issue published online: 4 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 20 DEC 2012
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- cardiovascular disease;
- health behaviors;
- social relations;
- social support
The primary goal of this paper is to summarise current evidence on social relations and health, specifically how social integration and social support are related to health behaviors and health outcomes, using results from published reviews. Our analysis revealed that social relations are beneficial for health behaviors such as chronic illness self-management and decreased suicidal tendency. The salutary effects of general measures of social relations (e.g. being validated, being cared for, etc.) on health behaviors (e.g. healthy diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol abuse) are weaker, but specific measures of social relations targeting corresponding health behaviors are more predictive. There is growing evidence that social relations are predictive of mortality and cardiovascular disease, and social relations play an equally protective role against both the incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, evidence was mixed for the association between social relations and cancer. We discuss these findings and potential areas for future research such as other dimensions of social relations, support–receiver interactions, and observer ratings of social relations.