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Abstract

This study examined the effects of daily support exchanges in couples facing multiple sclerosis (MS). Two issues were examined: the imbalance between received and provided support, and the extent to which reciprocal exchanges of received and provided support are associated with end-of-day well-being (positive and negative mood and self-esteem). Guided by equity theory, we expected that one-sided support provision or receipt would be harmful for well-being for both patients and partners. We argued that these negative outcomes could be offset by reciprocating support, that is, when both partners receive and provide support. Sixty-one patients and their partners filled out questionnaires on demographics and disease-related characteristics and subsequently completed computerized daily diaries for 14 days. At the end of each day, both partners completed diaries on end-of-day mood, self-esteem, received and provided emotional and instrumental support, and several control variables (daily hassles and MS-related symptoms for patients). Reciprocity in instrumental support transactions was associated with higher levels of self-esteem among both patients and partners. However, the other results all showed independent effects of support received and provided. Patients’ well-being was related to providing emotional support and instrumental support, whereas partners’ well-being was related to receiving emotional support from patients.