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Social Fitness and Resilience

Social Fitness and Resilience: A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being

Juliana McGene
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 58
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  • Book Info
    Social Fitness and Resilience
    Book Description:

    One of a series of reports designed to support Air Force leadership in promoting resilience among Airmen, its civilian employees, and Air Force family members, this report examines social fitness, or the combination of resources from social connections that influence how individuals respond to stressful circumstances. It assesses the current social fitness constructs and measures in scientific literature to identify methods of increasing social connectedness and support among U.S. Airmen and their families.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7930-5
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Population Studies, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Summary
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. 1. The Context of This Report
    (pp. 1-4)

    This report is one of a series designed to support Air Force leaders in promoting resilience among Airmen, its civilian employees, and Air Force family members. The research sponsors requested that RAND assess the current resilience-related constructs and measures in the scientific literature and report any evidence of initiatives that promote resilience across a number of domains. We did not limit our search to research conducted in military settings or with military personnel, as Air Force leaders sought the opportunity to apply the results of these studies to a population that had not yet been addressed (i.e., Airmen). Further, many...

  8. 2. Social Fitness Definition and Constructs
    (pp. 5-8)

    The availability and quality of social resources carry important consequences for Airmen and their families. Military families face several unique challenges that can strain the strength and accessibility of their social resources. Examples include frequent geographic relocation, separation from family members and friends, residence in foreign countries, risk of service member injury and death, and negotiating transitions to and from deployment (Segal, 1986; Willerton, Wadsworth, and Riggs, 2011). These challenges have been especially pressing in recent years, with deployment cycles becoming longer and more frequent since 2001 (Hosek, Kavanagh, and Miller, 2006). When they are established, however, positive connections with...

  9. 3. Measures and Sources of Social Fitness, and Its Link to Well-Being
    (pp. 9-18)

    We identified key measures of emotional, instrumental, and informational social support across several sources. These measures are typically assessed through surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups. Social sources of support can include families, friendships, groups of co-workers, clubs and associations, neighborhoods, and cyber communities. In this section, we outline the empirical evidence connecting the social support provided by these groups to an individual’s well-being.

    While there is much more empirical research linking the social support of families and neighborhoods to well-being than there is research assessing the impact of friendships, co-worker networks, and cyber relationships, a common theme throughout the literature...

  10. 4. Barriers and Bridges to Social Support
    (pp. 19-22)

    The factors that either facilitate or obstruct positive and beneficial forms of social support occur at both the individual and the group level. Although social support resources are typically understood as characteristics of the group itself (e.g., how cohesive a marriage or neighborhood is), the strength of a group’s social resources is partly defined by the accessibility of those resources to its members (Portes, 1998). Additionally, a group’s resources may not be equally accessible to all members and access can vary with individual traits (Paxton, 1999). This section identifies important intraindividual (i.e., within an individual) and interindividual (i.e., between individuals)...

  11. 5. Interventions to Promote Social Fitness
    (pp. 23-28)

    Having reviewed what we know about the factors that facilitate or obstruct social support, we now turn to a discussion of the types of interventions and efforts that should be made to promote the availability, exchange, and efficacy of that support. These include policies and programs that attend to the sociodemographic characteristics and dispositional traits that influence access to social support. Among these policies and programs are those that strengthen social groups, support networks, and teams; those that promote social skills and more frequent, constructive social interactions; and those that reduce conflict and group division.

    Sociodemographic factors have been shown...

  12. 6. Conclusion
    (pp. 29-30)

    In this report, we have identified social support as a central element of social fitness and have reviewed prior research on the key sources of social support and its influence on well-being. Finally, we have reviewed the factors that facilitate or obstruct positive social support and have made recommendations for promising interventions that can increase the facilitation of support. Our review has shown the importance of families, friends, co-workers, unit members, neighborhoods, and other communities for the provision of emotional, instrumental, and informational support. Our review has also demonstrated the link between these various forms of support and psychological, physical,...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 31-46)