Social comparisons and chronic illness: research synthesis and clinical implications

Danielle Arigo, Jerry M. Suls, Joshua M. Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The chronically ill patient must adjust to new life circumstances and manage ongoing threats to personal health. Patients often make comparisons with each other, which can have effects on their psychological and physical well-being. One question is whether health psychologists can develop interventions to strategically facilitate the use of such comparisons to optimise adjustment. This paper critically reviews evidence on patients' comparisons in studies using selection, narration and reaction methods. Discussion focuses on gaps in the empirical literature and describes some new basic concepts in social comparison, which may advance knowledge about the process in medical patients. Recommendations also are provided about the kinds of studies needed to inform the future design of effective social comparison interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-214
Number of pages61
JournalHealth Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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