The Relationship Between Social Support and Psychological Distress Among Hispanic Elders in Miami, Florida

Maria Cristina Cruza-Guet, Arnold R. Spokane, Grace I.L. Caskie, Scott C. Brown, José Szapocznik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study compared 5 psychological models of the relationship between social support (SS) and behavioral health. These theoretical models, which have garnered some level of prior empirical support, were as follows: (a) main effects, (b) buffering effects, (c) social exchange, (d) equity, and (e) protective health outcomes of providing SS. A population-based sample of 273 community-dwelling Hispanic elders drawn from East Little Havana, Florida (ages 70-100 years old; 86% Cuban) completed self-report measures of SS, financial strain, and psychological distress (PD). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to test the competing SS models. Results indicated that satisfaction with received SS was, as specified in the main-effects model, associated with lower PD, whereas received SS was unexpectedly associated with heightened PD. Reciprocal exchanges of SS (equity model) or exchanges where Hispanic elders provided more SS than they received (protective health outcomes of providing SS model) were also associated with lower PD. The feasibility of a 6th model in which the effects of SS are contingent upon the elder's preexisting PD level is proposed. Limitations, implications, and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-441
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • depression
  • Hispanic elders
  • negative interactions
  • psychological distress
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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