DEANNA LOTT BURRELL, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Research interest on well-being and social support has focused largely on social factors as related to attaining and maintaining well-being, self-perceptions of well-being and to a lesser extent the relationship of current level of self-perceived well-being to use of formal or informal sources of social support. This study analyzed responses to the General Well-Being Schedule of 6,913 subjects (25-74 years) interviewed during the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1971-1975). The purpose of this analysis was to relate the level of GWBS scores to the use of social support, both informal (family and friends) and formal (community professionals). Study questions addressed were whether well-being level was related to selection of a specific social support resource and/or rate of use of resources and whether gender differences were apparent in level of well-being and social support use. Because age, sex, race, socioeconomic status (income and education) and marital status may confound the relation between level of GWB and type of social support chosen, the association between these variables with GWB and use of social support were considered. For analysis, test scores were grouped into four categories and for detailed analysis, two categories: low (0-70) and high (71-110). Cross tabulations and percentages were computed and the chi-square test of significance was used. Although 16 to 25 percent of the sample population reported low well-being, less than 10 percent used formal resources to discuss emotional, mental or behavior problems. Medical resources, mostly physicians, were the most used formal social supports. Informal social support was important for all well-being levels where 65-77% of each category reported using this resource. While well-being level does not appear to serve as a screener/selector of type of formal social support used, it is related to rates of use. Females reported slightly lower well-being than males, and except in the lowest well-being group, had higher rates of social support use. Findings support the conclusion that perceived well-being is related to use of social support such that the lower the well-being, the greater tendency to use formal and/or informal social support.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

BURRELL, DEANNA LOTT, "GENERAL WELL-BEING AND USE OF SOCIAL SUPPORT" (1983). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8408508.