BACKGROUND:The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake resulted in extensive loss of life and physical and psychological injuries for survivors. This research examines the relationship between social support and health-related quality of life for the earthquake survivors. METHODS:A multistage cluster sampling strategy was employed to select participants from 11 shelters in nine counties exposed to different degrees of earthquake damage, for a questionnaire survey. The participants were asked to complete the Short Form 36 and the Social Support Rating Scale eight months after the earthquake struck. A total of 1617 participants returned the questionnaires. The quality of life of the survivors (in the four weeks preceding the survey) was compared with that of the general population in the region. Multivariate logistic regression analysis and canonical correlation analysis were performed to determine the association between social support and quality of life. RESULTS:The earthquake survivors reported poorer quality of life than the general population, with an average of 4.8% to 19.62% reduction in scores of the SF-36 (p < 0.001). The multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that those with stronger social support were more likely to have better quality of life. The canonical correlation analysis found that there was a discrepancy between actual social support received and perceived social support available, and the magnitude of this discrepancy was inversely related to perceived general health (rs = 0.467), and positively related to mental health (rs = 0.395). CONCLUSION:Social support is associated with quality of life in the survivors of the earthquake. More attention needs to be paid to increasing social support for those with poorer mental health.