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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Support and Strain Across Close Relationships: A Twin Study.

  • Author(s): Kutschke, Julia
  • Bengtson, May-Bente
  • Seeman, Teresa E
  • Harris, Jennifer R
  • et al.

Social relationships play a critical role in health and well-being throughout life. We analyzed the genetic and environmental variance co-variance structure for social support and strain across four sets of relationships including with one's co-twin, spouse/partner, family and friends. The sample included 5288 Norwegian twins aged 40-80. Older people reported less support from their co-twin and friends and less strain from their family and friends. Genetic influences contribute importantly to variation across all the measures, with estimates ranging from 0 to 58%; variance due to shared environmental influences was most important for the twin-relationship, ranging from 0.11 to 0.42%. Social support was negatively correlated with social strain across all sets of relationships. With the exception of the co-twin relationship, these associations were primarily mediated by genetic and non-shared environmental effects.

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