HEALTH

Social support increases a patient’s odds of survival and longevity

May 18, 2021, 3:26 PM | Updated: 4:14 pm
social support patient benefits...
File photo: Getty Images

PROVO, Utah — Social support contained in treatment can help medical patients live longer, according to a new study.

Brigham Young University (BYU) researchers found that patients who had “interpersonal relationship support interventions” saw a 29% increase in their probability of survival.

The study’s lead author, BYU counseling psychology professor Timothy B. Smith, said a patient is better able to cope and feels less distress when they have relationships and social support networks.

“Patients’ apathy, anxiety, uncertainty, etc. can prevent them from fully completing recommended medical treatments. Our data indicate that explicitly fostering patients’ motivation, coping strategies, social support, etc. improves their survival,” according to an abstract of the research. 

RELATED: Local clergy, chaplains ready to again serve hospital patients in person

As an example, Smith says that a patient going to a doctor already doesn’t feel well. They may also feel nervous or anxious about the visit.

If you involve family members to take notes and help accountability, that’s going to help,” Smith said. “And if they get to know other patients with the same condition, and receive support from them, that’s going to help. So social support just helps many aspects of the patient’s experience in the medical system.”

The study’s co-author, BYU psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, said people connect relationships to emotional and mental well-being — but that relations are also crucial to physical well-being and survival.

“We’ve already known just how incredibly important it is for our health and survival, but this goes beyond that to the next step,” Holt-Lunstad said.

“This also demonstrates that steps taken in the medical setting can make a difference … this evidence shows that is the case,” she said.

Social support can benefit all patients

And this benefit is for patients of all age levels, from pediatrics to geriatrics where a patient might be struggling.

The study was published in Plos Medicine on Tuesday.

RELATED: BYU research shows teens need in-person school but more sleep

“There are very few treatments that reduce mortality to the extent that we just demonstrated in this study. It is truly remarkable for 5% of patients to not die, simply because they are receiving social support. That’s a message that absolutely could change modern medicine. It should change modern medicine,” said Smith.

Authors provide recommendations for implementing study findings

The study authors provided multiple recommendations for the use of their research. They include hospital and clinical support programs for patients. The need extends especially to patients at risk for not completing treatments. 

Another suggestion involves hospitals and clinics. The authors suggest making these locations more family and caregiver-friendly.

 

Today’s Top Stories

Health

intermountain healthcare...
Mark Jones

Name change coming to Intermountain Healthcare next year

In 2023, Intermountain Healthcare will change its name to Intermountain Health.
22 hours ago
ovarian cancer...
Simone Seikaly

A new chance for a fighting chance against ovarian cancer

What may be most alarming about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are there, but they are quiet and can be mistaken for something else.
22 hours ago
Lincoln Beach pictured. Two shooting at Utah Lake happened near this beach....
Simone Seikaly

Utah County Health issues warning about harmful algal blooms

Utah County officials have detected high levels of harmful algal blooms at multiple Utah Lake marinas and beaches.
22 hours ago
Intermountain milestone 1 million tests...
Mark Jones

Intermountain Healthcare purchases land near Ephraim

Intermountain Healthcare has plans to develop 35 acres of land in the Ephraim area into a new hospital.
2 days ago
At 5800 So. 1400 W. you find an irrigation canal that attracts  a lot of waterfowl, seagulls and ev...
Mark Jones

Officials warn of additional cases of avian influenza

With the fall migration of wild waterfowl, state officials are warning bird owners to be prepared for additional cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or avian influenza.
2 days ago
Utah homes are recording high levels of radon gas. 
Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News...
Heather Kelly and Elizabeth Weiler

Utah homes have some of the highest levels of radon gas

New research finds that Utah homes have the 5th highest levels of radon gas when compared to the rest of the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that one in 15 homes in the U.S. have dangerous levels of radon gas. Utah is at much higher risk, as the agency found one in […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Social support increases a patient’s odds of survival and longevity