• social support;
  • concept analysis;
  • metasynthesis

Purpose:To clarify the concept of social support.

Design:Template Verification and Expansion Model.

Methods:Meta-synthesis strategies.

Findings:Social support is composed of emotional and instrumental support. It is an advocative interpersonal process characterized by reciprocal exchange of information, it is context specific, and it results in improved mental health. Antecedents of emotional and instrumental support include a perceived need plus a social network and climate that are conducive to the exchange of social support.

Conclusions:In keeping with the nonprofessional nature of social support, nurses are advised to encourage patients to use and enhance personal support networks. For the same reason, nurses should reconsider investigating social support as a nursing intervention. Expanded efforts are needed to differentiate social support from concepts such as caring.