The Development of an Instrument to Measure Social Support

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Abstract

This article describes the development of a new instrument, the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire, designed to measure multiple dimensions of social support. Based on Kahn's (1979) conceptual definitions of social support and definitions from network theory (Barnes, 1972), the instrument has three main variables—Total Functional, Total Network, and Total Loss—each with three subscales.

Graduate and undergraduate nursing students were used as subjects in this phase of testing, which established high levels of test-retest reliability and internal consistency. The social desirability response bias was ruled out, and moderate levels of concurrent validity were found. Additional work to establish construct validity is needed. Two groups of students were compared to study the normative trend for this population, and differences were minimal except for recent losses and aid, reflecting the actual situations of the two groups.

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