San Francisco Burden of Disease & Injury Study:
Determinants of Health
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Social Support/Lack of Social Connectedness

Social support is informal access to mutual aid and comfort provided by individuals and a social network. Social networks encompass the nurturing and coping relationships that are used to deal with events of daily life. Social support has at least three dimensions: emotional/spiritual, informational and practical:

  • Emotional and spiritual support: the informal mutual interactions of comfort, nurturing and sharing with family, friends, peers and others in a social network.
  • Informational support: the many forms of knowledge and skills gleaned from individuals in a social network.
  • Practical support: the supportive exchange of physical help by members of a social network. This includes informal access to labor for short-term projects as well as long-term care giving and financial support.

Social support can mitigate the effects of other determinants of health. To be consistent in its approach, the Work Group decided to frame this determinant in terms of lack of social support--lack of social connectedness.

Social Connectedness


Contribution to overall disease burden in SF

Downstream (Health Consequences)

What can be done?

Web resources

MEDLINE strategies

Updated May 9, 2003

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