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Social Support, Depression, and Recovery of Walking Ability Following Hip Fracture Surgery.

Elizabeth J. Mutran1, Donald C. Reitzes2, Jana Mossey3 and Maria Erlinda Fernandez1

Received February 7, 1994. Accepted March 14, 1995.

Abstract

The importance of social support and depression to recovery from illness is examined with reference to hip fracture. Subjects were community-dwelling, ambulatory White females 59 years of age and over who were recovering from hip fracture surgery. The respondents were interviewed at baseline and clinically interviewed 2 and 6 months postsurgery. Inadequacy of social support and depression resulted in less improvement in walking ability at 2 months. By 6 months, the flow of causal influence was in the reverse direction, with low improvement in walking ability leading to increased level of depression. Social support’s influence mediated the impact of health and background factors, but this was primarily at 2 months. If social support is to influence recovery, it must be present early in the recovery process. Social support’s long-term consequences are indirectly operating through recovery measures taken shortly after the illness event.

1Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina

2Department of Sociology, Georgia State University 3Department of Medicine, Medical College of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

Address correspondence to Elizabeth J. Mutran, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27500-7400. Internet address Betty_Mutran@unc.edu.

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