The relationships between two personality characteristics (neuroticism, extraversion), three types of supportive transactions (emotional support, social companionship, instrumental support) and satisfaction with these transactions, and two aspects of mental health (feelings of anxiety and depressive mood) were studied among 280 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. Structural equation modeling of the relevant variables showed that people with a more neurotic personality profile showed more anxiety and depressed feelings. Extraversion had no direct effect on depression or anxiety. Companionship, both transactions and satisfaction, had an independent positive effect on depression but not on anxiety. The effect of emotional support ran via social companionship: more emotional support (both transactions and satisfaction) was expressed in companionship leading to a less depressed mood. Finally, more depressed people received more instrumental supportive transactions while more satisfaction with this type of supportive transactions was related to less anxiety.
Apart from the disturbing effect of a neurotic personality profile on mental health, the results once more underscore the importance of social companionship as a multifunctional activity for people's mental health. Maintaining this type of relationships despite a disabling condition gives people the opportunity to derive rewards that otherwise could not or only with more difficulty be achieved.
- early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA)
- social support
- mental health
- SOCIAL SUPPORT