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What Type of Social Support Influences Self-Reported Physical and Mental Health Among Older Women?



We examined which types of social support were associated with older women's self-report of physical and mental health and whether the effects of social support were moderated by race/ethnicity.


Women completed a health behavior survey that included the Medical Outcomes Study-Short Form-12 (MOS SF-12). Single race/ethnic group regressions examined whether different types of social support were related to health. We also examined Pratt's relative importance measures.


Emotional support had the strongest effect on both physical and mental health, explaining the highest amount of variation, except among African Americans. Race/ethnicity moderated the association of informational support for Asian women's reports of their mental health.


For clinicians, assessing individuals' emotional support is important for maintaining or increasing physical and mental health. Clinicians can also assess Asian women's stress, providing informational support accordingly as too much information could be detrimental to their health. For researchers, the inclusion of emotional support items is the most important.

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