The relationship between difficulties in emotion regulation and health-risk behaviors: the mediator role of perceived social support

Demir, Berka
The purpose of the present study was to examine the mediator role of perceived social support in the relationship between difficulties in emotion regulation and health-risk behaviors (alcohol use, smoking, suicide tendency, and substance use). The sample of the study consisted of 619 college students from different universities located in Central and South Anatolia. The data were gathered via four scales: Demographic Information Form, Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and University Form of Risk Behaviors Scale (UFRBS). To test the hypothesized model, two structural equation modeling (SEM) were utilized. The tested models provided empirical evidence for relevance of Problem Behavior Theory in the context of health-related risk behaviors. Results of the SEM indicated that difficulties in emotion regulation (DER) was a significant predictor for all of the health-related risk behaviors. Perceived family and perceived significant other support partially mediated DER-smoking and DER-suicide tendency; perceived friend support partially mediated only DER-suicide tendency relationships. As for overall perceived social support, while it provided full-mediation for DER-alcohol use, it partially mediated DER-substance use, and DER-suicide tendency relationships. However, it did not mediate the DER-smoking relationship. The variance explained in health-risk behaviors ranged between 3% and 60% via two models. Furthermore, results of multi-group analyses revealed that while hypothesized model 1 varied across gender, model 2 was structurally invariant by gender. The findings of the study were discussed in the light of the literature. Implications for theory, research, practice and recommendations for further research were presented.