Relationship of social Support to Stress Responses and Immune Function in Healthy and Asthmatic Adolescents

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10 p.

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Research in Nursing and Health

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doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-240X(199804)21:2<117::AID-NUR3>3.0.CO;2-M; Shelves: RT1 .R48x Raynor Memorial Periodicals


Although most clinicians believe that social support has beneficial effects on health, the mechanisms mediating this relationship have not been clearly established. We examined the direct effect of social support on several immune measures and its role in moderating the response to academic exams in healthy and asthmatic adolescents. Three types of students—healthy, mild asthma, and severe asthma—completed social support and stress questionnaires and gave blood samples during the midsemester and final exam periods. Social support and natural killer cell (NK) function showed a significant reduction during exams in both healthy and asthmatic adolescents. Social support, however, did not have a direct effect on immune responses. Nevertheless, high social support appeared to attenuate the magnitude of exam-induced reduction in NK activity, suggesting a role for social support in protecting against immune decrements during times of stress. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 21: 117–128, 1998


Research in Nursing and Health, Vol. 21, No. 2 (April 1998): 117-128. DOI.

Donna McCarthy was affiliated with the University of Wisconsin - Madison at the time of publication.