Associations between Social Support from Family, Friends, and Teachers and depressive Symptoms in Adolescents

Pössel, Patrick, Burton, Shelby M., Cauley, Bridget, Sawyer, Michael G., Spence, Susan H. and Sheffield, Jeanie (2017) Associations between Social Support from Family, Friends, and Teachers and depressive Symptoms in Adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47 2: 398-412. doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0712-6

Author Pössel, Patrick
Burton, Shelby M.
Cauley, Bridget
Sawyer, Michael G.
Spence, Susan H.
Sheffield, Jeanie
Title Associations between Social Support from Family, Friends, and Teachers and depressive Symptoms in Adolescents
Journal name Journal of Youth and Adolescence   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1573-6601
Publication date 2017-07-10
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10964-017-0712-6
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 47
Issue 2
Start page 398
End page 412
Total pages 15
Place of publication New York, NY United States
Publisher Springer New York
Language eng
Abstract Approximately 20% of adolescents develop depressive symptoms. Family, friends, and teachers are crucial sources of social support for adolescents, but it is unclear whether social support impacts adolescents directly (principle-effect model) or by moderating the effect of stress (stress-buffer model) and whether each source of social support remains meaningful when their influence is studied simultaneously. To help fill this gap, we followed 1452 Australian students (average age at enrollment = 13.1, SD = 0.5; range: 11-16 years; 51.9% female) for 5 years. Based on our findings, each source of support is negatively related to depressive symptoms one year later when studied independently but when combined, only family and teacher support predicted depressive symptoms. Family support in all grades and teacher support in grade 8 to 10 but not in grade 11 directly impacted adolescent depressive symptoms 1 year later. Family support in grades 8 and 11 also buffered against the negative impact of stress on depressive symptoms one year later. Based on the unexpected findings, the most important limitations seem to be that the used instruments do not allow for a separation of different groups of friends (e.g., classmates, same-gender peers, romantic partners), types of social support, and stress. In addition, the high, nonrandom attrition rate with adolescents reporting less social support, more stressful events, a higher frequency of depressive symptoms, and/or being of Torres Strait Islander or Aboriginal background limits the generalizability of our findings. Summarized, our findings demonstrate that adolescents facing stress might benefit more from family support compared to their peers without stressful life events and that friends may have a weaker presence in adolescent lives than expected.
Keyword Depression
High school students
Social support by family, friends, and teachers
principle-effect model
stress-buffer model
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID No number
No number
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Wed, 07 Feb 2018, 12:29:00 EST