Who helps and how? Examining the relationship between social support and the quality of life of adolescents with chronic illness

Thumbnail Image




Thompson, Robert J Jr.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Introduction. Approximately 15% of adolescents in the United States suffer from one or more chronic conditions. And 50% of adolescents with chronic illness do not completely adhere to their treatment regimens, and many report decreased emotional wellbeing. While social support has been widely investigated as a factor related to improved quality of life (QoL) in adults with chronic illness, it is less understood in relation to the adolescent chronic illness population. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand how 4 forms of social support – nondirective emotional, nondirective instrumental, directive emotional, and directive instrumental – affect the physical, social emotional, and school QoL of adolescents with chronic illness. It was hypothesized that (1) nondirective emotional support from both parents and friends will have a positive relationship with physical, social, emotional, and school QoL; (2) adolescents will perceive greater nondirective and directive instrumental support from parents than from friends, and greater nondirective and directive emotional support from friends than from parents; (3) parental support will be positively associated with physical QoL; and (4) peer support will be positively associated with psychosocial (i.e. social, emotional, and school) QoL. Methods. Data used in this study came from Robinson et al. (2010), The Development of Character for Youth With Chronic Illness Study which utilized a 30-minute web-based questionnaire that was completed by 171 adolescent participants of Victory Junction Gang Camp, a camp for children and adolescents with chronic conditions. In the Robinson et al. (2010) study, quality of life was assessed with the PedsQL™ and social support was assessed with the Social Support for Adolescents Scale. Results. There were no statistically significant relationships between type of social support from friends and quality of life. The only statistically significant finding was a positive relationship between nondirective emotional support from parents and emotional quality of life, when controlling for the covariates of age, race, gender, and physical disability. Conclusions. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.





Schilstra, Clarissa (2016). Who helps and how? Examining the relationship between social support and the quality of life of adolescents with chronic illness. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11834.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.