Social Networks and Social Support and Their Relation to Health Promotion.

Moi University
Department of Sociology and Psychology


Onsarigo Thomas g. and Bernard Kibet

Social networks and social support and their relation to health promotion

Social network and social support are increasingly appreciated approaches to enhancement of human health. The term social network refers to the web of social relationships that surround individuals. The provision of social support is one of the important functions of a relationship. Thus, the social term social network refers to linkages between people that may or may not provide social support and that serve functions other than providing support (Karen et al 2008). According to Berkman et al (2000), social relationships have a great impact on health education and health behavior. Closely related to health components of social relationships are social integration, social network and social support. Social integration has been used to refer to the existence of social ties. The study of social support owes much to the work of social epidemiologist John Cassel (1976). Drawing from numerous animal and human studies, Cassel posited that social support served as a key psychosocial “ protective” factor that reduce individuals’ vulnerability to the deleterious effects of stress on health. He also specified that psychosocial factors such as social support were likely to play a nonspecific role in etiology of disease. Thus, social support may influence the incidence and prevalence of a wide array of health outcome.
Social Networks
According to Marsden (2000.2727), a social network is a “structure of relationships linking social actors”. Social networks can also be “the set of actors and the ties among them” (Wasserman and Faust 1994).
Social network have eight distinct characteristics, Reciprocity, i.e. the extent to which resources and support are both given and received in a relation; Intensity or strength-the extent...