Received social support and well-being among survivors of natural disaster
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-04-24.
© 2019 Fanhong Shang
The idea that receiving social support in the aftermath of a disaster is beneficial to survivors’ psychological outcomes is widely accepted by both researchers and practitioners. However previous studies assessing the association between received social support and psychological outcomes have produced mixed results. One limitation of these studies is that they only assessed the quantity of support received, but not its quality. However, current evidences suggested that receiving social support is not always beneficial, this can lead to both positive and negative consequences. This research was intended to examine the effects of postdisaster received social support on psychological outcomes, and to explore the determinants of recipients’ perception of social support interactions. In the context of a longitudinal mixed method design, three studies were conducted among survivors of the Lushan earthquake in China: a longitudinal quantitative study examining the impact of post-disaster received social support on posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychological distress; a longitudinal quantitative analysis examining the impact of post-disaster social support on posttraumatic growth; and a qualitative study describing survivors’ experiences of receiving postdisaster social support, and exploring what matters to recipients in their evaluation of these experiences. A convenience sample of Lushan earthquake survivors was invited to complete a questionnaire 7 months after the earthquake (n =199) and was followed up 31 months later (n =161). Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted by the author among a sub-group of participants (n =11) in the follow-up survey. This thesis found that greater quality of social support received 7 months after disaster predicted lower levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms and psychological distress two years later, however quantity of received social support was not significant in predicting these two outcomes. The association between quantity of received social support and PTG was moderated by the quality of received social support. Specifically, for survivors who received high quality of post-disaster social support, greater amounts of support received facilitated their posttraumatic growth. However, for those survivors who received poor quality of post-disaster support, greater quantity of support impeded PTG. Social support recipients cared about features related to outcomes, interaction, provider and management. First, recipients cared about features of the outcomes of social support interactions; that is, whether the support that was received fulfilled their needs, and also whether the distribution of support was equal and fair. Second, they cared about whether the interaction goes smoothly and easily; whether the interaction was initiated by providers; whether the interaction was public and therefore witnessed by others; whether they were treated with dignity in the interaction; and whether they had opportunities to reciprocate. Third, characteristics of help providers, including whether they sincerely wanted to help them, and what they devoted in order to provide assistance, also matter. Lastly, the efficacy and appropriateness regarding the management of disaster relief resources was concerned by recipients.
Keywordsreceived social support; disaster; PTSD; PTG; psychological distress; mixed method; quality of help; quantity of help; well-being; mental health; earthquake
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