PURPOSE: High levels of depressive symptoms have been shown to affect the morbidity, mortality, and functioning of patients with myocardial infarction (MI). Findings have shown that social support is associated with depression in both patient and community samples. This study examined various aspects of social support as they relate to depressive symptoms in patients with MI, both in the hospital and 2 weeks later. METHODS: As part of the Enhancing Recovery in Coronary Heart Disease (ENRICHD) pilot study, measures of perceived social support, social networks, social support received, and social conflict were administered to 196 patients with MI. These patients also were administered the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Depression was reassessed 2 weeks later. Relations between social support indicators and the depression measures were examined. RESULTS: The prevalence of depression symptoms was high, especially among poorer and younger patients. There was modest improvement across time. Patients with high social support scores, particularly those reflecting perceived support, had lower scores on depression measures at baseline. High levels of perceived support and low social conflict at baseline were associated with less follow-up depression, as measured by the Beck cognitive scale, but not the Beck somatic scale nor the Hamilton scale. There were few associations with measures of social networks and received support. CONCLUSIONS: Social support indicators were differentially related to depression among patients with MI while in the hospital and 2 weeks later. The pattern of associations also depended on the measure of depression. A broad assessment strategy of both social support and depression is needed for a full understanding of their interrelations.
- Coronary heart disease
- Social support