The mediating role of social support in the relationship between psychological well-being and health-risk behaviors among Chinese university students

Catie C.W. Lai, Man Sze Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


While literature has displayed a link between psychological well-being (i.e. depression, hopelessness, and life satisfaction) and health-risk behaviors (i.e. smoking, drinking, suicide, and physical inactivity), the mechanisms underlying this relationship have received little empirical attention. This study examines the mediation effects of social support (from family, friends, and significant others) that accounted for the link. Participants were 2023 university students (47.7% male). Structural equation modeling showed partial mediation effect of social support between psychological well-being and health-risk behaviors. In particular, social support from family and friends jointly mediated about 80 percent of the effect of life satisfaction and hopelessness on drinking. These results offered novel evidence that helps improve theorizing the mechanisms of the relationship between psychological well-being and health-risk behaviors. They also highlighted the potential benefits of social support for university students to help them stay healthy. The implications of these results are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Health behavior
  • Mediation effect
  • Social support
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Well-being
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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