The goal of this section is to provide a foundation for understanding relationships between social networks and social support and health. It is important to note that "social networks and social support" is not a single unified theory. Instead, the social networks and social support model explains ways in which social relationships that provide different types of social support influence (or may be influenced by) health.
The terms social network and social support describe the structure, processes, and functions of social relationships. Attempts to explain how social networks that provide social support improve health are "rooted in" various theoretical perspectives (such as symbolic interactionism, social cognitive, stress and coping). Most perspectives come primarily from social psychology and sociology.
We will begin our examination of relationships between social networks and social support and health by identifying constructs related to social networks and social support separately. Next, we will examine hypothesized relationships between health and social networks that provide social support.