American Sociological Association

Ties Received, Support Perceived: A Test of the Theorized Relationships among Workplace Networks, Social Support, and Mental Health in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Research on the association between social relationships and mental health tends to draw from either the social network or stress process tradition. In this study we review the central tenets of these theoretical perspectives and the key empirical work of each. Employing data from the Teamwork, Clinical Culture, and Change (T3C) in the NICU Study (N = 231), we use the case of mental health among medical staff members to test the relationships among workplace networks, social support, and mental health hypothesized by these traditions. We find that higher levels of indegree ties and reciprocity and more positive perceptions of support reduce distress while only support diminishes feelings of burnout. Contrary to our hypotheses, neither mediating nor moderating effects are in evidence. Although limited to organizational settings, results suggest the need for greater collaboration between the stress process and social network traditions as well as a reconsideration of the prevailing methodological approaches to measuring social relationships.


Grace, M. K., VanHeuvelen, J. S.





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