Initial reliability and validity of a new measure of perceived social support for family members of problem substance users

Paul Toner, R D B Velleman

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To describe the development of a questionnaire for assessment of the perceived
functional social support needs of family members who have relatives with
substance-related problems.
To present preliminary evidence of its reliability and validity, thus completing the set of measures required to quantitatively assess the Stress-Strain-Coping-Support (SSCS) model of addiction and the family.
A mixed methodological approach utilising interview, cross-sectional and repeated measurement data was adopted to operationalise social support specific to family
Adult family members affected by the problem alcohol or drug use of close relatives in the United Kingdom.
A 75-item self-completion Alcohol, Drugs and the Family Social Support Scale (ADF
SSS) was developed from interview data, and piloted with 10 family members. The
resultant 58-item measure was subjected to psychometric testing with 132 family members, alongside qualitative feedback from 110. This led to a refined 25-item
questionnaire whose psychometric properties are described in this paper.
Preliminary findings on the 25-item questionnaire indicate satisfactory levels of
internal consistency for the overall measure (α=0.812) and each of the three
constituent subscales: frequency of positively perceived general (α=0.913) and ADF specific (α=0.727) functional support and frequency of negatively perceived ADFrelated (α=0.851) functional support. Qualitative information from family members revealed that the measure was experientially applicable to them.
The significance of a new social support measure is discussed, with implications for research, theory and practice in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147–157
Number of pages11
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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