Factors related to social support in neurological and mental disorders
The study explores what are the strongest factors related to social support in neuropsychiatric disorders, whether there is a specific interaction between the most important personality and health related factors for social support, whether the level of disability mediates the relationship between personality and social support and whether type of health condition (mental or neurological) is a moderator between level of disability and social support.
PLoS ONE 11(2): e0149356. doi:10.1371/journal.pone
Despite the huge body of research on social support, literature has been primarily focused on its beneficial role for both physical and mental health. It is still unclear why people with mental and neurological disorders experience low levels of social support. The main objective of this study was to explore what are the strongest factors related to social support and how do they interact with each other in neuropsychiatric disorders.
The study used cross-sectional data from 722 persons suffering from dementia, depression, epilepsy, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, stroke, and substance use disorders. Multiple linear regressions showed that disability was the strongest factor for social support. Extraversion and agreeableness were significant personality variables, but when the interaction terms between personality traits and disability were included, disability remained the only significant variable. Moreover, level of disability mediated the relationship between personality (extraversion and agreeableness) and level of social support.
Moderation analysis revealed that people that had mental disorders experienced lower levels of support when being highly disabled compared to people with neurological disorders. Unlike previous literature, focused on increasing social support as the origin of improving disability, this study suggested that interventions improving day-to-day functioning or maladaptive personality styles might also have an effect on the way people perceive social support. Future longitudinal research, however, is warranted to explore causality.
Keywords: mental health, social support, neuropsychiatric disorders