Background: Growing evidence has been collected about the high prevalence of psychological stress symptoms in primary care. The role of psychosocial variables, namely the role of support from the patients’ interpersonal ties, has not been extensively explored. Methods : The study investigated the relationship between perceived social support, as evaluated by the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and psychological stress symtpoms, as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), in 1,341 primary care attenders. Results: In comparison with highly supported patients, low supported subjects showed higher scores on emotional stress dimensions (e.g. depression, anxiety, phobia) and a higher prevalence of psychological morbidity (‘caseness’ = 37.3% vs. 11%). Discussion: The findings suggest that, in the setting of primary care, GPs’ assesment of their patients’ social support system may be useful in identifying those more vulnerable to psychological stress
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