Relative contributions of naturalistic and constructed support: Two studies of women with type 2 diabetes

Manuel Barrera, Deborah J. Toobert, Lisa A. Strycker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Do distinct sources of social support have differential effects on health? Although previous research has contrasted family and friend support (naturalistic support), research on the relative effects of naturalistic support and constructed support (e.g., support groups) is extremely rare. Two studies of women with type 2 diabetes were conducted that assessed the independent effects of naturalistic and constructed support on physical activity and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). Participants were women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from the intervention arms of two randomized controlled trials: primarily European American women (Study 1; N = 163) and exclusively Hispanic women (Study 2; N = 142). Measures assessed physical activity, HbA1c, and friend and family support at baseline and at 6 months, as well as group support after 6 months of intervention. In Study 1, only group support was related to increases in physical activity (ΔR2 =.036). In Study 2, group support and family support showed independent effects on increases in physical activity (ΔR2 =.047 and.060, respectively). Also, group support was related to decreases in HbA1c in Study 1 (ΔR2 =.031) and Study 2 (ΔR2 =.065). Overall, constructed (group) support was related to outcomes most consistently, but naturalistic (family) support showed some independent relation to physical activity improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • HbA1c
  • Physical activity
  • Social support
  • Support groups
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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