Background: Among people coping with chronic illness, tangible social support sometimes has unintended negative consequences on the recipient's psychological health. Identity processes may help explain these effects. Individuals derive self-worth and a sense of competence by enacting social roles that are central to the self-concept. Purpose: This study tested a model drawing from some of these theoretical propositions. The central hypothesis was that tangible support in fulfilling a highly valued role undermines self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy, which, in turn, affect psychological adjustment. Methods: Structured interviews were conducted with 98 Latina women with arthritis who rated the homemaker identity as being of central importance to the self-concept. Results: A path analysis indicated that, contrary to predictions, tangible housework support was related to less psychological distress. Emotional support predicted greater psychological well-being. These relationships were not mediated by self-esteem or self-efficacy. Qualitative data revealed that half of the sample expressed either ambivalent or negative feelings about receiving housework support. Conclusions: Results may reflect social and cultural norms concerning the types of support that are helpful and appropriate from specific support providers. Future research should consider the cultural meaning and normative context of the support transaction. This study contributes to scarce literatures on the mechanisms that mediate the relationship between social support and adjustment, as well as illness and psychosocial adaptation among Latina women with chronic illness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health