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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1990;30(1):37-53.

Measuring social support among older adults.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch.


The purpose of this study is to introduce a measure of natural supportive behaviors for use in studies that examine the relationship between stress, social support, and health among older adults. The index improves on existing measures in three ways: it avoids problems arising from confounding potentially supportive relationships with support that is actually received; the scale also assesses variations in individual support needs; and it measures four distinct dimensions of social support (informational support, tangible help, emotional support, and integration). Based on data from a random community survey of 351 older adults, the basic psychometric properties and the factor structure of the scale are explored. The predictive validity of the scale is demonstrated by showing that the dimensions of support buffer the stressful effects of bereavement on depressive symptoms.

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