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Invisible versus Visible Social Support and Social Control in the Context of Chronic Illness


Background: Invisible social support (i.e., support not recognized by recipients) has been posited to avoid the costs of receiving support, which include distress and reduced feelings of self-efficacy. The effect of invisible support has primarily been studied in the context of acute stressors. Moreover, little research has examined invisible versus visible social control (i.e., others’ efforts to improve a health behavior). Purpose: The current study examined the implications of invisible and visible social support and control for negative affect and self-efficacy in the context of a chronic stressor, namely the management of type 2 diabetes. Methods: Daily diary data was collected from 129 older couples in which one spouse had type 2 diabetes. Results: Invisible support and invisible control were not associated with negative affect, and invisible control was associated with lower, rather than greater, patient self-efficacy. Conclusion: The results suggest that the benefits of invisible social support and invisible social control may not extend to chronic illness.

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