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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is well documented that belonging to a social network characterized by mutual support leads to better health outcomes, and there is great interest in understanding the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Social relationships may influence health outcomes by influencing the practice of health-related behaviors, including preventive and lifestyle behaviors, treatment adherence, and illness-management behaviors. This chapter reviews current conceptual and theoretical considerations linking social networks and social support to health behaviors. Furthermore, it synthesizes key empirical literature to advance our understanding of the associations among social relationships and a variety of types of health-related behavior. Although social relationships appear to play a key role in facilitating good health behaviors, greater elucidation of the details of this relationship is needed in order to better apply this knowledge to effectively promote health-behavior change and maintenance.

Keywords: social support, social networks, social ties, health behavior, adherence, chronic illness management

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