Healthcare System and Social Support

Afza.Malik GDA

Social Support and Healthcare System

Healthcare System and Social Support

What is Social Support,Social Support and Nursing Care,Models of Social Support,Effects of Social Support and Outcome,Buffering Effect o Social Support,Effects of Social Support.

What is Social Support

    The concept of social support is a complex one that has many dimensions or constructs. Dimensions of social support include the function (eg, emotional support, tangible aid), source of support (eg, coworker, supervisor, spouse), and structure of support (eg, network, frequency of social interactions) (Hobfoll & Vaux , 1993 ). 

    S. Cohen and Wills (1985) described the function of social support as emotional, instrumental, informational, and social companionship. Emotional support is to provide one with love and care. 

    On the other hand, instrumental support is to provide one with financial aid, material resources, and services, whereas informational support (appraisal support) is to assist one to understand and deal with problematic situations, and social companionship is to spend good time (recreational activities) with others (Cohen & Wills). 

    The bulk of social support studies were conducted during the 1980s and early 1990s. This might be attributed to the increased interest of researchers in occupational stress and its management in the late 1970s. Social support was among the approaches that were investigated in relation to dealing with stress.

Social Support and Nursing Care

    Research indicates that nursing is a stressful profession. Occupational stressors, if not managed successfully or effectively, could affect the psychological as well as physiological capacities of the individual. 

    However, some employers might consider the stress of their employees as a personal psychological state and ignore its consequences on the organizations and the physiological and behavioral functions of the employees. 

    Lawrence and Lawrence (1987/88) described some of the behavioral changes occurring as a result of work related stress as low productivity, low morale, and absenteeism. Furthermore, occupational stress has also been associated with problems in physical and mental health such as stomach disorders, high blood pressures, headaches, depression, and emotional outbursts. 

    Such consequences of occupational stress are associated with alienation among staff members (lack of emotional support) more than any other factor (Maslach & Pines, 1978). 

    In short, the direct and indirect effects of stress in terms of job dissatisfaction, low job performance, turnover, and absenteeism motivate researchers to investigate variables such as social support that might offset or reduce the impact of occupational stress and enhance the morale and satisfaction of the staff.

Models of Social Support

    The two models of social support, the direct effect and the stress buffering, have been widely discussed (Cohen & Wills, 1985). 

    The direct effect model indicates the effect of social support on certain variables such as job performance and job satisfaction regardless of the level of stress, whereas the stress buffering model indicates the effect of social support on certain outcomes through decreasing the level of stress. 

    Selected literature of the direct and buffering effects of social support on organizational outcomes among nurses is discussed below.

Effects of Social Support and Outcome

    The literature revealed the consistency for the direct effect of social support on outcomes such as burnout, job performance, job satisfaction, and intention to stay. Emotional social support has been found to be negatively associated with burnout despite the different instruments used to measure social support. 

    Such finding was supported by Hare, Pratt, and Anderaw (1988). Both measurements have adequate reliability and validity. AbuAl -Rub (2004) found that as social support increased, job performance increased. 

    McClos key (1990) found that social integration (social support from coworkers) was positively correlated with job satisfaction, work motivation, commitment to the organization, and intention to stay. Social integration was also found to buffer the bad effects of low autonomy. 

    The autonomy integration interactions for intent to stay and organizational commitment at 6 months and job satisfaction at 12 months were statistically significant.

Buffering Effect o Social Support

    On the other hand, the literature showed inconsistent results for the buffering effect of social support. For example, LaRocco , House, and French (1980) tested the buffering effect of social support on the relationships among stress strain, strain-health, and stress-health, The results indicated that social support 

(a) did not buffer the impact of job stress on job strain

(b) did buffer the effect of job stress on overall mental health

(c) did buffer the impact of job strain on mental health. 

    AbuAlRub (2004) found that social support did not buffer the relationship between job stress and job performance; that is, as perceived job stress increased, nurses with high social support in the workplace did not perform better than nurses with less support.

Effects of Social Support

    The results of W. Stewart and Barling (1996), who examined the effect of social support on the stress performance relationship, indicated that only informational social support moderated or buffered the subjective stress-performance relationship. That is, increased informational social support reduces the negative impact of stress on job performance. 

    Fong (1990) examined the stress support burnout relation among nursing faculty, The results showed that support from supervisors and work peers was positively correlated with all dimensions of burnout. 

    On the other hand, the results revealed that support from supervisors and coworkers did not moderate or buffer the stress burnout relationship: that is, as stress increased, the individuals with high support did not experience less burnout than those with less support.

    Based on the literature, further research using different designs and methodologies is needed to test the buffering effect of social support. In testing such an effect, control is needed not only for individual differences, but also for other job variables that may mask the buffering or moderating effect of social support. 

    Since hospitals spend a great deal of money in the recruitment and orientation processes of new staff, it becomes more important to keep them. Based on the research studies that provide evidence for the direct effect of social support on the organizational outcomes such as job stress, job performance, and job satisfaction, peer and superior support programs are paramount in order to enhance the well-being and satisfaction of the staff and the quality of care they provide for patients.

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