Maintaining support in people with paralysis: what works?

Social support is a protective factor for well-being in the risk-and-resilience framework, yet people with paralysis report lower levels of support compared to people without paralysis. Rather than examine deficits, in this study, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with individuals who report high levels of social support to examine what sustains this protective factor. Because relationship equity affects social support, the authors also examined this. They selected participants who reported high levels of support from a survey sample of 299 U.S. adults experiencing some form of paralysis. Seventeen participants completed the in-depth interview. The importance of reciprocity, maintaining autonomy, and a positive outlook for sustaining support were themes identified in the content analysis. In their responses, people with high support emphasized that they do all they can to affect their environment positively, so that ideally, the only assistance that they cannot provide themselves is successfully obtained from others.