Daily Court Reporter - News OSU study: Social support benefits some people
OSU study: Social support benefits some people
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
An Ohio State University study partially confirms the long-held opinion that a friend's support goes a long way to protect an individual's physical health.
Results showed that perceived social support didn't help people with low self-esteem when it came to one measure of physical health: Inflammation. But it did assist those with a more positive attitude about themselves.
"People with high self-esteem already have advantages compared to those with low self-esteem, and social support only helps them more," said David Lee, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at The Ohio State University. "It's a case of the rich getting richer."
Researchers examined a protein in the blood called C-Reactive Protein, a marker for inflammation. Previous research has shown that chronic inflammation is a potent driver of diseases, including cancer and heart disease, a press release detailed.
Researchers looked at the protein to determine how it was related to levels of self-esteem and perceived social support. Higher levels of the protein indicate higher levels of dangerous inflammation.
Results showed that increased levels of perceived social support were linked to lower levels of the protein, but only in people with higher self-esteem.
People with low self-esteem did not get the expected health boost from more perceived social support, the study found.
Ohio State psychology professor Baldwin Way, who worked with Lee, said that social support may not work in the same positive way for people with low self-esteem as it does in those with a healthy view of themselves.
"People with a negative self-view may actually feel more stress when people try to help them," he said. "They may feel they don't deserve the help or they worry that they're asking for too much from their friends and family.
"The result is that they may not get the benefits of social support."
Data from the study came from the Survey of Midlife Development in the United States and included 1,054 healthy adults.
Participants rated how much support they felt from those closest to them, including family, friends and spouse. They also completed a seven-item questionnaire that measured their levels of self-esteem.
About two years after the survey, the same participants gave a blood sample in which they were measured for the marker.
The findings may contribute to development of more effective intervention strategies to reduce stress-related inflammation in those who have low self-esteem, the researchers said.
Research appears online in the journal Health Psychology and is to be published in a future print edition.
Date Published: May 28, 2019