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

Paul Tomas Toner, Richard Velleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: 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.

Design: A mixed methodological approach utilising interview, cross-sectional and repeated-measurement data was adopted to operationalise social support specific to family members.

Participants: Adult family members affected by the problem alcohol or drug use of close relatives in the United Kingdom.

Measurements: 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 article.

Findings: 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 ADF-related (α = 0.851) functional support. Qualitative information from family members revealed that the measure was experientially applicable to them.

Conclusions: 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
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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