Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Paul A. Toro


The health benefit and stress-buffering effects of social support were examined. Homeless (N=250) and housed (N=148) adolescents were assessed in adolescence and again in early adulthood, providing longitudinal data to help understand how these social constructs may change and influence health. The study was designed to test Cohen and Wills (1985) main effect and stress-buffering hypotheses. Current findings provide some support for the main effect hypothesis and some more limited support for the stress-buffering effect of perceived social support on mental health. Specifically, a main effect was found at baseline for network social support on number of substance abuse symptoms. Other findings include main effects for perceived social support on physical and mental health outcomes, which are consistent with major findings in the field. Also, an interaction effect was found for perceived social support and physical health symptoms; however, it was an inverted stress-buffering effect.