Introduction It has been recognised for many years that in Western contexts social support is associated with depression. However, relatively few studies have investigated this association in non-Western countries, and few, if any, in a clinical population. The present study aimed to establish how the perceived quality of social support provided by their spouse, their family and their friends to people in China who have a clinical diagnosis of depression is associated with aspects of their illness.
Methods The sample comprised 50 males and 50 females ranging in age from 19 to 62 years. All participants had a clinical diagnosis of depression. They completed the Beck Depression Inventory and a scale assessing perceived social support.
Results Contrary to predictions and previous research findings, no significant association was found between perceived quality of social support and level of depression, length of depression, and number of episodes of depression.
Discussion A variety of cultural factors may be associated with the quality of social support provided to patients with depression. Further research is required to investigate if these findings generalise across other non-Western populations, and also, to explore other factors that may influence the onset and continuation of depression among people in China.