Special Issue "Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Care Sciences & Services".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Rosario Fernández-Peña
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Nursing, SALBIS Research Group, Nursing Research Group IDIVAL, University of Cantabria, 39008 Santander, Spain
Interests: social support; nursing;
Prof. Marí Carmen Portillo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton,Highfield Campus, SO17 1BJ, Southampton, United Kingdom
Interests: long term conditions; social support;
Prof. José Luís Molina
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: social networks; social support; transnational relations, migration and ethnicity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nowadays, the increase in life expectancy, improvements in public health and health care and the adoption of certain lifestyles have led to a dramatic increase in long term conditions. As an attempt to focus on the person and not the condition, health and social care systems have reoriented towards person-centered approaches, highlighting the importance of the individual's social environment as a key source of support and care.

The literature on social support has experienced increasing interest during the recent decades, both theoretically and empirically. Therefore, this special issue focuses on the study of social support and social networks for individuals with long term conditions and their caregivers, and seeks papers on new research aimed at (a) increasing knowledge about the role of social support and social networks in the health of individuals living with long term conditions, and (b) proposing models of care that have been or could be successful and sustainable.

From a design point of view we shall consider quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods and literature reviews in relation to the topic.

Prof. Rosario Fernández-Peña
Prof. Marí Carmen Portillo
Prof. José Luís Molina
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • social support
  • community health networks
  • chronic disease
  • community networks social care
  • social networks
  • social network analysis
  • long term conditions
  • caregivers

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
The Impact of a Peer Social Support Network from the Perspective of Women with Fibromyalgia: A Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12801; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312801 - 04 Dec 2021
Viewed by 223
Abstract
Background: Fibromyalgia is a chronic and complex disease whose management by patients requires a high level of commitment. Patient empowerment therefore represents an important milestone in chronic disease treatment and control. We explored the impact of a peer social support network from the [...] Read more.
Background: Fibromyalgia is a chronic and complex disease whose management by patients requires a high level of commitment. Patient empowerment therefore represents an important milestone in chronic disease treatment and control. We explored the impact of a peer social support network from the perspective of women with fibromyalgia. Methods: A generic qualitative design was proposed for the study, for which women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia were purposefully selected. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted, and the collected data were thematically analysed. Results: Three key themes emerged regarding the peer social support network: (1) empowerment (facilitating acceptance of the diagnosis and acting as a source of information); (2) effects on well-being and quality of life (attenuated the stigma, improved physical well-being, provided emotional support and was a socialization medium); and (3), valuable aspects (transmitted feelings of being understood and listened to and increased personal feelings of satisfaction). Conclusions: A peer social support network for women with fibromyalgia exerts positive effects on their physical, mental, and social well-being and empowers them to better manage their disease. Healthcare for women with fibromyalgia should include strategies that connect them through peer social support networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
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Article
Personal Support Networks of Young People with Mild Intellectual Disabilities during the Transition to Adult Life
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11810; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211810 - 11 Nov 2021
Viewed by 356
Abstract
Social support networks occupy a priority position requiring attention in the processes of social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, during their transition to adult life. The objective of the study was to analyze social support from a relational approach through Personal Network [...] Read more.
Social support networks occupy a priority position requiring attention in the processes of social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, during their transition to adult life. The objective of the study was to analyze social support from a relational approach through Personal Network Analysis. A total of 41 young people with mild intellectual disabilities participated in the study, in two groups differentiated according to their educational stage, either compulsory secondary education or post-compulsory training. Descriptive and comparative results are presented based on the variables of structure, composition, and functional content in the social support of their personal networks. The results show that both groups have restricted personal networks, made up of members of the family and the educational environment who constitute the main providers of support. When moving towards adult life, the change in social contacts in other educational, geographical, and relational settings may mean a change in the provision of support received in previous life stages. Developing social and educational actions to support these people in the development and maintenance of social relationships is essential to their access to support resources that will affect their social inclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
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Article
Changes in Caregiver Personal Support Networks: Gender Differences and Effects on Health (CUIDAR-SE Study)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111723 - 08 Nov 2021
Viewed by 523
Abstract
Technological changes have led to important advances in medical diagnoses and treatments that prolong the informal care process. Support from the personal network of informal caregivers is an undervalued resource and the changes that have occurred over time are unknown. The aim of [...] Read more.
Technological changes have led to important advances in medical diagnoses and treatments that prolong the informal care process. Support from the personal network of informal caregivers is an undervalued resource and the changes that have occurred over time are unknown. The aim of this study was to analyze the changes in personal network support among informal caregivers and to examine the effect of these changes on self-perceived caregiver health, with a focus on differences between men and women and caregivers with high and low levels of burden We also investigated caregiver perceptions and explanations of changes to their support network (losses and additions and no change). Using a mixed-methods approach, data were obtained from 32 caregivers that were intentionally selected in Spain, who were interviewed twice with a one-year interval. In the quantitative phase, personal networks analysis was performed with Egonet software, which obtained data on the composition and functional content in social support from 1600 personal relationships (25 alters for each ego in the two waves). In the qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews were conducted in the two waves with a guide in order to explore the changes in informal support resources over time. The selected men with high levels of burden pointed out a loss of network support with more discouraging reports compared with the low-burden male caregivers. Furthermore, the selected women with low burden levels mentioned losses too; however, their reports were more positive. Women reported improved health, especially those with low burden scores in the first wave and those who did not lose support. Caregivers with a high initial burden and who lost support reported worse health, particularly men and women with a strong sense of duty toward care. Social support from personal networks is important for caregiver health and its effects are influenced by gender roles. Our findings could help by improving the relational and social capital of informal caregivers and adapting them to the new needs of formal home care systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
Article
The Relational Vulnerability of People Experiencing Multiple Exclusion Homelessness (MEH) in Spain
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10275; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910275 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 501
Abstract
This paper draws on research analyzing the emotional and relational impacts of poverty and exclusion on charities’ clients in Spain since the 2008–2009 economic crisis, including people experiencing multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH). The study adopts a mixed-methods approach in which twenty in-depth cases [...] Read more.
This paper draws on research analyzing the emotional and relational impacts of poverty and exclusion on charities’ clients in Spain since the 2008–2009 economic crisis, including people experiencing multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH). The study adopts a mixed-methods approach in which twenty in-depth cases were collected in different geographical locations, including twelve cases experiencing MEH. Unlike other disadvantaged groups, those affected by MEH suffer material shortages, traumatic experiences, psychological disorders, physical illnesses, and a high degree of relational vulnerability, as reflected in the structure and composition of their personal networks, which tend to be smaller in size, with just a few weak and temporary contacts, and with care professionals playing an important role. These charity users often need long-term socio-sanitary care, which challenges public and private health-care systems. Therefore, our contribution to this Special Issue is directed toward improving understanding of the relational characteristics of severely excluded people, how social support affects their personal networks, and the challenges this assistance poses to care services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
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Article
“It’s What I Have, It’s Not Who I Am”: A Qualitative Study of Social Support in Education/Employment Settings and Transition Readiness of Young Adults with End-Stage Renal Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6596; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126596 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 654
Abstract
This study investigated the role of social support in self-management within education/employment settings for young adults (YA) with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) as well as barriers and facilitators to social support formation. Nineteen YA with ESRD (mean age 24 years, 10 males, 9 [...] Read more.
This study investigated the role of social support in self-management within education/employment settings for young adults (YA) with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) as well as barriers and facilitators to social support formation. Nineteen YA with ESRD (mean age 24 years, 10 males, 9 African American) recruited from a pediatric nephrology clinic in the Southeast United States completed in-person semi-structured interviews. The grounded theory was used to analyze transcribed interviews to identify emergent themes. Absences hindered participants’ school/work attendance and performance. Social support was necessary for illness management and success in academic/vocational settings. Facilitators to establishing support included self-awareness and view of disclosure as a way to access accommodations. Barriers included fear of judgment, job loss, and the belief that the condition was too personal to disclose. Educators and employers must acknowledge the needs of YA with ESRD to promote development and educational/vocational success. Fear of disclosure and poor disease self-management interferes with accessing social support. Communication skills and autonomy in patients’ medical and personal lives can promote success in education and employment settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
Article
Social Support and Health Services Use in People Aged over 65 Years Migrating within China: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134651 - 28 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
Background: Due to the household registration system, Chinese elderly migrants have insufficient access to health services and social support. Thus, this study examined the use of health services, the access to social support, and the interaction among the elderly migrating within China. Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: Due to the household registration system, Chinese elderly migrants have insufficient access to health services and social support. Thus, this study examined the use of health services, the access to social support, and the interaction among the elderly migrating within China. Methods: Data were obtained from the China Migrant Dynamic Monitoring Survey in 2015, adopting probability proportionate to size as the sampling strategy. Structural equation modeling and mediating effect tests were employed to explore the associations. Results: Approximately 45.9% of elderly migrants did not seek health services when needed. The use of outpatient and inpatient services was more common than free essential public health services. The use of health services was negatively associated with migrating duration and migrating for offspring, while it was positively associated with outer social support. The mediating effects of outer social support were discovered on the relationships between the use of health services and independent variables such as migrating duration and migrating for offspring, respectively. Conclusion: Elderly migrants with a longer migrating duration or migrated for offspring seem to obtain less outer social support, resulting in a decreased use of health services. Outer social support was suggested as a key effort to improve the equalization of health services in Chinese elderly migrants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Support and Social Networks in Long-Term Conditions)
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