How providing social support to other people may promote better health

According to experts at Ohio State University, giving social support to other people may be more important for one’s health than previously believed.

The research group at Ohio State examined the data of over 1,050 participants as part of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the U.S. The age group was between 34 and 84. The results appeared in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that sought to assess their social integration. It asked about the participants’ interpersonal relationships, familial contact, and attendance at social activities.

The study unveiled that chronic inflammation, an important measure of health, was reduced in the presence of positive social relationships among people who provided social support to friends and family.

“This study examines whether perceived social support-giving (i.e., the belief that one can be available to give social support to others, henceforward referred to as perceived support-giving) moderates associations between social relationships and inflammation using data from the longitudinal follow-up of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the U.S.,” the authors wrote in their study.

“The results showed that perceived support-giving moderated the associations between IL-6 and indicators of positive social relationships, including social integration, perceived support-availability, and positive relations with others,” the study determined.

“Indicators of positive social relationships were associated with lower IL-6 among individuals higher, but not lower, in perceived support-giving.”

Image courtesy of Dimitri Vervitsiotis
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