Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Cynthia D. Mohr
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology
1 online resource (ix, 201 pages)
Social connection is essential for health and well-being. Although the salubrious effects of social relationships have been established, important questions remain such as: the mechanisms driving these beneficial effects, the extent that promoting social support in the workplace can benefit workers and their romantic partners, and if support from important but less close sources of support (like supervisors) can offer additional health benefits beyond support from closer relationships (like romantic partners). Over three studies, I explored these topics in the context of military couples (Studies 1 & 2) and in partnered service members (Study 3) on health and well-being outcomes that are relevant to these populations [e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbances]. The first study examined the mechanisms driving salubrious effects of romantic partners, demonstrating that perceived partner responsiveness (PPR) was associated with higher sleep quality for both members of military couples, lower pain for veterans, and that affect mediated these associations. The second study evaluated whether a workplace intervention, which incorporated supervisor supportiveness trainings and worker sleep tracking, could foster improved well-being, mental health and social connection in service member workers and their romantic partners. Specifically, Study 2 found that the intervention improved well-being (which was assessed with life satisfaction) and social connection (assessed with loneliness and PPR) of military couples in the treatment group relative to the control group. An intervention effect did not emerge for the mental health indicator, PTSD symptom severity, for military couples but it was significant for service members in initial models, which suggests that the intervention may ameliorate PTSD severity for workers but not their romantic partners. The purpose of the Study 3 was to determine if supervisor support offered additional benefits on health outcomes (PTSD symptom severity and sleep dissatisfaction) for service members after controlling for the likely more potent effects of romantic partner support. Supervisor support was not associated with subsequent PTSD symptom severity or sleep dissatisfaction, although the initial (i.e., unconstrained) model revealed a significant negative association with PTSD symptom severity at a subsequent wave. Supplemental analyses revealed that supervisor support was negatively associated with psychological distress (i.e., a broad mental health indicator). This suggests that supervisor support offers additional benefits for psychological health beyond the benefits of romantic partner support. Taken together, these studies clarified mechanisms by which social relationships influence health, established that a workplace intervention can promote the well-being and social connection of workers and their romantic partners, and that supervisor support is a unique and important resource for worker mental health. These findings have implications for the general public and for practitioners in the fields of public health and organizational psychology.
© 2022 AnnaMarie Sophia O’Neill
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O'Neill, AnnaMarie Sophia, "The Benefits of Social Support on Health and Well-Being in Military Populations: Examining Mechanisms, Source of Support, and the Reach of a Workplace Well-Being Intervention" (2022). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5993.