The Biobehavioral Family Model: Testing Social Support as an Additional Exogenous Variable

Sarah B. Woods, Jacob B. Priest, Tara Roush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study tests the inclusion of social support as a distinct exogenous variable in the Biobehavioral Family Model (BBFM). The BBFM is a biopsychosocial approach to health that proposes that biobehavioral reactivity (anxiety and depression) mediates the relationship between family emotional climate and disease activity. Data for this study included married, English-speaking adult participants (n = 1,321; 55% female; M age = 45.2 years) from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative epidemiological study of the frequency of mental disorders in the United States. Participants reported their demographics, marital functioning, social support from friends and relatives, anxiety and depression (biobehavioral reactivity), number of chronic health conditions, and number of prescription medications. Confirmatory factor analyses supported the items used in the measures of negative marital interactions, social support, and biobehavioral reactivity, as well as the use of negative marital interactions, friends' social support, and relatives' social support as distinct factors in the model. Structural equation modeling indicated a good fit of the data to the hypothesized model (χ2 = 846.04, p = .000, SRMR = .039, CFI = .924, TLI = .914, RMSEA = .043). Negative marital interactions predicted biobehavioral reactivity (β = .38, p < .001), as did relatives' social support, inversely (β = -.16, p < .001). Biobehavioral reactivity predicted disease activity (β = .40, p < .001) and was demonstrated to be a significant mediator through tests of indirect effects. Findings are consistent with previous tests of the BBFM with adult samples, and suggest the important addition of family social support as a predicting factor in the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-685
Number of pages14
JournalFamily Process
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Biopsychosocial
  • Depression
  • Family
  • Physical Health
  • Social Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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