This paper describes the development and evaluation of a brief, multidimensional, self-administered, social support survey that was developed for patients in the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS), a two-year survey that was developed for patients with chronic conditions. This survey was designed to be comprehensive in terms of recent thinking about the various dimensions of social support. In addition, it was designed to be distinct from other related measures. The authors present a summary of the major conceptual issues considered when choosing items for the social support battery, describe the items, and present findings based on data from 2987 patients (ages 18 and older). Multitrait scaling analyses supported the dimensionality of four functional support scales (emotional/informational, tangible, affectionate, and positive social interaction) and the construction of an overall functional social support index. These support measures are distinct from structural measures of social support and from related health measures. They are reliable (all Alphas >0.91), and are fairly stable over time. Selected construct validity hypotheses were supported.

Originally published in: Social Science and Medicine, v. 32, 1991, pp. 705-714.

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