Author(s): Kristjansson B, Breithaupt K, McDowell I
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Abstract Lack of social support is an important risk factor for disability, psychiatric illness, cognitive impairment, institutionalization, and mortality. Social networks are also important for the caregiving and emotional support that elderly people need to allow them to function well in the community. This article details the development and validation of an index of the instrumental support available to older community residents in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA). Preliminary item review, internal consistency, and exploratory factor analysis were carried out on a random half of the sample. The second half of the sample was used for cross-validation; internal consistency, exploratory factor analysis, and item response theory analysis were carried out. The final scale had six items; alpha internal consistency was 0.76 and IRT reliability was 0.85. A one-factor solution was most easily interpretable. IRT analyses showed that the scale was homogeneous and that most items were highly discriminating. The instrumental support scale also had a high correlation with size of social network; it was related to marital status and gender, and predicted institutionalization between the two phases of the study.
This article was published in Int Psychogeriatr
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research