A1 Journal article – refereed
Associations of social support and alexithymia with psychological distress in Finnish young adults

List of Authors: Saikkonen S., Karukivi M., Vahlberg T., Saarijärvi S.
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Journal name in source: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume number: 59
Issue number: 6
Number of pages: 8
ISSN: 0036-5564
eISSN: 1467-9450


The positive influence of social support on psychological wellbeing is
well documented but the research among young adults is scarce.
Additionally, it is still unclear what type of social support explains
the positive influence in this age group. Alexithymia has been linked to
lacking social support and higher levels of psychological distress, but
the underlying mechanisms are not well known. We aimed to assess the
association of social support and alexithymia with psychological
distress in a sample of young adults. The non-clinical sample comprised
316 young Finnish adults (mean age 23 years). Psychological distress was
assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12),
alexithymia was measured with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and
social support with the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social
Support (MSPSS). The associations were assessed using regression
analyses. The TAS-20 (p = 0.002) and MSPSS (p = < 0.001) total scores
were significantly associated with the GHQ-12 scores even after
adjustment for sociodemographic variables. For the model with the TAS-20
and MSPSS subscales, the Difficulty Identifying Feelings subscale score
of the TAS-20 scale (p < 0.001) and the Family subscale score of the
MSPSS scale (p = 0.010) were significantly associated with the GHQ-12
scores. Our results show that low social support and high levels of
alexithymia are associated with increased psychological distress both in
females and males. Perceived social support from family explained the
association between social support and psychological distress to a
significant extent. Regarding alexithymia, the association with
psychological distress was mainly related to difficulties identifying

Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 08:58