Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology



First Advisor

Linda S. Lamont


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of social support on an individual’s result of 12-weeks of cardiac rehabilitation. Specifically, this study investigated whether or not participants decreased their body mass index, increased their stress test duration, showed greater changes in their maximum attained heart during their stress test and overall improvements in health through their SF-36 scores.

METHODS: Fifty-five men and women from Rhode Island were recruited from The Miriam Hospital Center for Cardiac Fitness. All participants were currently participating in cardiac rehabilitation. They completed all twelve weeks, completed all necessary paperwork and completed a treadmill stress test. This was a descriptive study design that used pre and post testing physiological measurements. The ENRICHD Social Support Instrument (ESSI) was given after the participant completed the consent form. The majority of these participants had high levels of social support (N= 49). Individuals were considered to have high social support if they had a minimum score of 28 out of 34 and were considered to have low social support if they scored at or below 27 out of 34. Pre test measurements included anthropometrics (body mass index (kg/m2): high social support= 28.81± 5.07, lower social support= 26.70± 3.85, stress test measurements (resting systolic pressure (mmHg): high social support= 123.10± 16.91, lower social support= 115.60± 15.06; resting diastolic pressure (mmHg): high social support= 73.35± 8.48, lower social support= 70.00± 9.06; total time on treadmill (sec): high social support= 418.83± 126.07, lower social support= 391.80± 75.74; maximum attained heart rate (bpm): high social support= 119.00± 16.66 , lower social support=116.00± 19.16) and questionnaires (SF-36 mental composite score: high social support= 53.08± 10.53, lower social support= 50.67± 11.68; physical composite score: high social support= 39.19± 7.63, low social support= 36.67± 3.76).

RESULTS: The level of social support did not have an impact upon changes in weight, BMI, stress test time and maximum attained heart rate over the course of cardiac rehab enrollment. A generalized linear model showed that those with higher social support reported higher scores on the overall physical composite score (P= 0.000); as well as, the physical functioning (P= 0.006), vitality (P= 0.047) and social functioning (P= 0.017) subscales of the SF-36.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the level of social support did not have an impact on measured outcomes such as anthropometric data and stress test results. However, there were clear effects when examining the Health Related Quality of Life Measure. The group lower in social support, despite apparent physical improvements on the stress test, actually had declines in the physical composite scale and several specific subscales. This finding warrants further study and replication within a larger sample as it suggests potentially negative outcomes in individuals that are not receiving high levels of support.



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