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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

RIVERSIDE
The Measurement and Health Outcomes of Social Support
A Dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in
Psychology
by
Keiko Anne Taga
December 2006
Dissertation Committee:
Dr. Howard S. Friedman, Chairperson
Dr. Daniel J. Ozer
Dr. Chandra A. Reynolds
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UMI Number: 3249781
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Copyright by
Keiko Anne Taga
2006
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The Dissertation of Keiko Anne Taga is approved:
CommitteerChairperson
University of California, Riverside
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was supported in part by a research grant from the National Institute
on Aging (#AG08825, Howard S. Friedman, Principal Investigator), and by a
Dissertation Grant from the University of California, Riverside.
I would like to express my deep appreciation for my dissertation committee chair,
Dr. Howard S. Friedman, for his guidance and mentorship throughout graduate school. I
would also like to thank Drs. Chandra A. Reynolds and Daniel J. Ozer, the other
members of my dissertation committee, for lending me their time, expertise, and patience.
Thanks are also due to Dr. Leslie R. Martin, for the limitless energy with which she
taught me about so many aspects of the research process. I also feel deep gratitude
toward the late Dr. John H. Ashe, for his confidence in my abilities and role as my
comer man.
My sources of social support were extremely helpful throughout my graduate
school experience; I would especially like to thank Seth A. Wagerman, AnnJudel C.
Enriquez, Melissa L. DiLorenzo, Desiree M. Despues, Patrick J. LaShell, and Deane H.
Zahn for their friendship and humor.
It is difficult to express the extent to which I feel grateful to my family, including
the Japanese branch and my newly acquired family, for their unconditional love, support,
and friendship.
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DEDICATION
This dissertation is dedicated to my husband, Mark P. Brynildsen, for his love,
patience, commitment, support, and humor.
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ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION
The Measurement and Health Outcomes of Social Support
by
Keiko Anne Taga
Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in Psychology
University of California, Riverside, December 2006
Dr. Howard S. Friedman, Chairperson
An existing difficulty in interpreting the vast literature on social support and
health is the inconsistency in the measurement and conceptualization of social support.
The purpose of the present study was first to establish the primary factors of social
support that are measured by frequently-used social support scales, and second to
examine the relation between each of the resulting factors of social support with mortality
risk. A contemporary sample of 265 adults was recruited to complete six selected
measures of social support, which were subsequently subjected to a confirmatory factor
analysis to identify the aspects of social support measured by these often-used scales. To
establish the validity of a set of similar items in the archival Terman Life-Cycle Study
data set as representing these factors, comparisons were made between these participants
responses to the items in these scales to their responses to items identified in the archival
data set as representing similar constructs. Finally, the resulting factors of social support
were used to predict mortality risk in the archival data set. The results of the
confirmatory factor analysis showed that the main factors of social support included in
contemporary scales are social network size, perceived available support, satisfaction
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with support, providing support to others, and negative interactions. The results of the
validity testing determined that three of these factors (social network size, perceived
available support, and providing support) are adequately measured by items in the
archival data set. The results of the analysis using the three factors of social support to
predict mortality risk demonstrated that a larger social network size is independently
associated with a decreased mortality risk, whereas when social network size and
perceived availability of support are controlled, giving support to others is positively
associated with longevity. The results of this study provide a clearer understanding of
what specific aspects of social support are measured in contemporary scales of social
support, and how each aspect of social support is associated with health outcomes.
Future researchers can use this model of social support to investigate further relations
between social support and health.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................. x
LIST OF FIGURES.......................................................................................................... xii
INTRODUCTION...............................................................................................................1
Social Ties............................................................................................................... 2
Perceived Available Support................................................................................... 3
Satisfaction with Support........................................................................................ 5
Providing Social Support........................................................................................ 6
Negative Social Relationships................................................................................ 7
Measurement of Social Ties/Social Support........................................................... 8
THE PRESENT STUDY...................................................................................................10
Validity of Scales Constructed from Archival Data...............................................10
Hypotheses............................................................................................................ 13
METHOD.......................................................................................................................... 14
Contemporary Participants.....................................................................................14
Archival Participants.............................................................................................. 15
Measures................................................................................................................ 16
Procedures..............................................................................................................19
Analysis................................................................................................................. 20
RESULTS......................................................................................................................... 26
Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Contemporary Social Support Scales............... 26
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Measurement Invariance....................................................................................... 26
Correlational Analysis.......................................................................................... 28
Rational Analysis.................................................................................................. 29
Mortality Risk....................................................................................................... 30
DISCUSSION................................................................................................................... 32
Summary of Findings............................................................................................ 32
Limitations............................................................................................................ 37
Implications............................................................................................................38
REFERENCES................................................................................................................. 40
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LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
1. Items Assessing Social Support in Archival Data Set, 1977 and 1986.................. 47
2. Means and Standard Deviations of Judges Ratings of Items Fit with Social
Networks Category............................................................................................... 48
3. Means and Standard Deviations of Judges Ratings of Items Fit with Perceived
Available Support Category.................................................................................. 50
4. Means and Standard Deviations of Judges Ratings of Items Fit with Satisfaction
with Support Category.......................................................................................... 52
5. Means and Standard Deviations of Judges Ratings of Items Fit with Providing
Support Category.................................................................................................. 54
6. Means and Standard Deviations of Judges Ratings of Items Fit with Negative
Interactions Category............................................................................................ 56
7. Factor Loadings of Items within Social Network Category...................................58
8. Factor Loadings of Items within Perceived Available Support Category..............59
9. Factor Loadings of Items within Satisfaction with Support Category....................60
10. Factor Loadings of Items within Negative Interactions Category..........................61
11. Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Social Networks....................... 62
12. Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Perceived Available
Support.................................................................................................................. 63
13. Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Satisfaction with Support 64
14. Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Providing Support....................65
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15. Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Negative Interactions.............. 66
16. Model-Fitting Results for Contemporary Social Support Items in Contemporary
Sample................................................................................................................... 67
17. Model-Fitting Results for Archival Social Support Items in Archival Sample....68
18. Model-Fitting Results for Archival Social Support Items in Contemporary
Sample................................................................................................................... 69
19. Model-Fitting Results for Establishing Measurement Invariance..........................70
20. Correlations among Archival and Contemporary Social Support Items within
Contemporary Sample.......................................................................................... 71
21. Correlations among Archival and Contemporary Social Support Items within
Contemporary Sample, Adjusting for Reliability................................................. 72
22. Means of Judges Ratings of Items in Archival Factors Fit with Factors Resulting
from Factor Analysis of Contemporary Social Support Items.............................. 73
23. Proportional Hazards Regressions Predicting Mortality Risk as of 2005 from
Factors of Social Support...................................................................................... 74
24. Simultaneous Proportional Hazards Regressions Predicting Mortality Risk as of
2005 from Factors of Social Support.................................................................... 75
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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure Page
1. Hypothesized Model of Social Support...................................................................76
2. Model Estimates for the Final 5-Factor Model of Items from Contemporary Social
Support Scales in Contemporary Sample................................................................ 77
3. Model Estimates for 4-Factor Model of Archival Items in Archival Sample.......... 78
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INTRODUCTION
An important aim in the field of health psychology is to identify psychological
and social predictors of health and longevity. The nature of the association between
social relationships and health is of particular interest given that relationships can clearly
have a substantial impact on individuals lives. In recent decades, a common finding in
health psychology is that there is a substantial link between social relations and health.
Generally, social integration (non-isolation), satisfying personal relationships, and a
relative absence of conflict point to positive psychological and physical health outcomes.
However, the literature on the relation between social support and social ties and health is
not entirely consistent. For example, although some studies find a strong positive
association between social networks and later health (e.g., Berkman & Syme, 1979;
House, Robbins, & Metzner, 1982), others find no effect of social networks (e.g.,
Schaefer, Coyne, & Lazarus, 1981), and social relations have even been associated with
negative psychological outcomes (e.g., Schaefer et al., 1981).
Part of the reason for this apparent inconsistency may be the ambiguity in the
conceptualization of social support (e.g., Glass, Mendes de Leon, Seeman, & Berkman,
1997; McNally & Newman, 1999; Schaefer et al., 1981; Veiel & Baumann, 1992), as
well as the variety of instruments used to measure social support (e.g., Sarason, Shearin,
Pierce, & Sarason, 1987). It is estimated that hundreds of different measures of social
support and social ties have been used in published studies, making it difficult to compare
results across studies (Bowling & Grundy, 1998). Therefore, when investigating the
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relation between social support and health, it is important to make distinctions among the
various aspects of social support that are being measured (e.g., social integration,
perceived support, satisfaction with support; Sarason & Sarason, 1994). After the various
factors of social support are clarified, a better understanding of each factors individual
relation with health can be reached. That is, it is particularly important to understand
how social networks (or social isolation), perceived support, satisfaction with support,
conflict, and providing support (to others) individually relate to health; it is possible that
different aspects of social support have different types of associations with health. The
information gained from answers to these questions will contribute to the scientific study
of social support and physical health through a much more refined understanding of what
constitutes social support and its association with health.
Social Ties
Social integration, social ties, social networks, and social isolation generally refer
to the number of social connections an individual possesses (or lacks) (Seeman, 1996).
The health risks associated with having small social networks were demonstrated in a
landmark study of older adult residents of Alameda County, California (Berkman &
Syme, 1979). Specifically, lacking social contacts such as marriage, close friends and
relatives, informal and formal groups, and church membership predicted increased
mortality risk 17 years later (controlling for baseline self-reported health). This
correlation has been confirmed in many other studies (e.g., Eng, Rimm, Fitzmaurice, &
Kawachi, 2002; Rutledge, Matthews, Lui, Stone, & Cauley, 2003), including those
conducted in other countries such as France (Berkman, Melchior, Chastang, Niedhammer,
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Leclerc, & Goldberg, 2004), Israel (Walter-Ginzburg, Blumstein, Chetrit, & Modan,
2002), and Japan (Iwasaki et al., 2002; Murata et al., 2005). Other studies replicating this
association between social ties and mortality risk also identified men as more vulnerable
to poor outcomes of social isolation (House, Robbins, & Metzner, 1982). Further, having
more social ties is associated with higher resistance to infection (Cohen, Doyle, Skoner,
Rabin, & Gwaltney, 1997). However, there is some indication that social networks are
not universally associated with better health outcomes; it has been shown that social
network size is unrelated to self-reported health (Schaefer et al., 1981). Although larger
social networks may have an impact on health by allowing for greater opportunity for
benefits of social support such as reduction in stress responses, decrease in negative
mood states, and improvement of health behaviors (Uchino, Uno, & Holt-Lunstad, 1999),
there is likely a psychological cost associated with large social networks. Large networks
involve a greater likelihood of conflict and burden than small networks (e.g., Antonucci,
Akiyama, & Lansford, 1998; Burg & Seeman, 1994).
Perceived Available Support
Perceived support is a subjective indicator of the amount of support appraised to
be available by the individual as well as satisfaction with the availability of support
(Schaefer et al., 1981; Wethington & Kessler, 1986). It has been suggested that
perceived support may be an important determinant of psychological and physical health
outcomes due to this subjective quality (Grundy, Bowling, & Farquhar, 1996; Schaefer et
al., 1981). Indeed, perceived support has been associated with psychological outcomes
such as positive self-perceptions (Sarason, Pierce, Shearin, Sarason, Waltz, & Poppe,
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1991), fewer depressive symptoms (Comman, Goldman, Glei, Weinstein, & Chang, 2003;
DuPertuis, Aldwin, & Bosse, 2001; Krause, Liang, & Yatomi, 1989; Schaefer et al.,
1981), and lower levels of stress (Sarason & Sarason, 1994) and distress (Wethington &
Kessler, 1986) and physical outcomes such as higher self-rated health (Krause, 1987) and
lower mortality risk (Brummett et al., 2005; Krause, 1997). However, in addition to this
evidence of positive outcomes of perceived support, some studies show no relation
between perceived support and physical health (Comman et al., 2003; Sherboume &
Hays, 1990) or mortality (e.g., House, Robbins, & Metzner, 1982). A common
explanation for the generally positive outcomes of perceived support involves the stress-
buffering mechanism of perceived support; when individuals encounter potentially
stressful situations, the perception that support is available is thought to mitigate the
stress response (Cohen & Wills, 1985).
Perceived support is often considered as an individual difference variable rather
than a characteristic of the environment; unlike other conceptions of support such as
social network size, the perception of available support may be a stable, internal
characteristic (Lakey & Cassady, 1990; Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 1997). That is,
perceptions of social support may be stable sets of beliefs a person holds instead of an
assessment of the qualities of present relationships. In fact, perceived support is
correlated with self-esteem and attitudes, providing evidence for this perspective (Lakey
& Cassady, 1990). Early experiences with support from others (e.g., family) may
influence the development of schema for social relationships and attachment, which
persist into adulthood (Sarason et al., 1997). For example, individuals who experienced
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secure relationships with their parents as children might perceive future relationships as
secure as well, independent of their objective qualities. It also seems likely that
perceptions of support may be influenced (directly or indirectly) by genetics; a twin study
showed that for identical twin pairs, perceived support was more highly correlated than
for pairs of fraternal twins (Bergeman, Plomin, Pedersen, McCleam, & Nesselroade,
1990), whereas environmental influences alone explained similarity for objective social
support.
Satisfaction with Support
In contrast to other conceptualizations of support, another perspective is that
individuals satisfaction with support perceived or received is more important than more
objective characteristics of the support. Much like the arguments for the importance of
perceived support, satisfaction with support is thought to be essential in predicting health
outcomes, as it captures both positive and negative subjective aspects of social relations
(Krause, 1995; Krause et al., 1989). For example, questions assessing satisfaction with
social support also measure dissatisfaction; negative aspects of social relations may
indicate satisfaction with these relations more so than do positive aspects (Krause, 1995).
It appears that satisfaction with support is an important determinant of health-related
outcomes; higher levels of satisfaction are predictive of lower levels of depressive
symptoms (Antonucci, Fuhrer, & Dartigues, 1997; Krause et al., 1989) and better self-
rated health (Krause, 1987) and health-related quality of life (Doeglas et al., 1996).
These associations between satisfaction with support and better mental and physical
health can be explained by the feelings of contentment and security (Krause, 1987, p.
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301) resulting from this satisfaction; this aspect distinguishes satisfaction with support
from more objective indicators of support such as social network size or received support.
Satisfaction with support may be a stronger predictor of health-related outcomes than
more objective indicators because it encompasses individual differences in need for
support; different individuals who experience the same amount and quality of support
may diverge in their levels of satisfaction with this support due to their unique needs
(Krause, 1987). Whereas the use of objective indicators does not allow consideration of
differences in needs and preferences for support, satisfaction with support captures these
differences nicely (Krause, 1987).
Providing Social Support
Although most findings relevant to social support and health focus on individuals
social ties or factors related to the receipt of support, recent research indicates that
providing social support to others may result in health benefits. Providing social support
has shown to be more strongly related to increased longevity than receiving support (S. L.
Brown, Nesse, Vinokur, & Smith, 2003; W. M. Brown, Consedine, & Magai, 2005), and
is also predictive of decreased distress (Liang, Krause, & Bennett, 2001). This apparent
benefit may be due to the positive emotions that result from helping others; giving
support is related to heightened feelings of personal control (Krause, Herzog, & Baker,
1992) and self-esteem (Liang et al., 2001). Yet, giving support can also lead to negative
interactions, in that feelings of resentment may result from giving more support than is
reasonable (Liang et al., 2001). Further, providing too much support (e.g., as a caregiver)
can have consequences that are quite detrimental (i.e., caregiver stress; e.g., Patterson &
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Grant, 2003). An alternative explanation to the importance of positive (and negative)
emotions resulting from providing support in psychological and health outcomes is that
perhaps individuals who give support are those who have adequate resources to do so.
These resources may both allow the individuals to give to others and contribute to their
own health. The evolutionary perspective has also been used as a basis for the apparent
health benefits of providing social support to others, in that reciprocal altruism is thought
to increase the likelihood of survival (W. M. Brown et al., 2005). Thus, providing social
support may be at least partially responsible for the benefits of social contact (S. L.
Brown et al., 2003).
Negative Social Relationships
Despite evidence for the psychological and physical benefits of social support,
there are also hints that social relations can yield some negative consequences. In fact, it
is argued that the negative aspects of social relations have a more powerful impact on
well-being than the positive aspects (Rook, 1984). Specifically, receiving social support
can lead to feelings of dependency and diminished self-respect (Grundy, Bowling, &
Farquhar, 1996). Further, the receipt of social support may represent the failure of an
individuals own coping mechanisms (Wethington & Kessler, 1986). However,
associations found between received support and psychological distress (e.g., Bolger,
Zuckerman, & Kessler, 2000) may be explained by the increased need for support during
stressful times rather than a causal relation between received support and distress.
Conflict is another significant aspect of social relations that can have negative
outcomes. For example, relationship conflict is associated with psychological
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consequences such as increases in psychological distress and decreases in well-being
(Antonucci et al., 1998; Newsom, Rook, Nishishiba, Sorkin, & Mahan, 2005; Rook, 1984)
and increases in negative affect (Ingersoll-Dayton, Morgan, & Antonucci, 1997), as well
as physical health-related outcomes such as increased susceptibility to infection (Cohen,
Frank, Doyle, Skoner, Rabin, & Gwaltney, 1998). Thus, it is important to note that
outcomes of social relationships are not restricted to benefits such as decreases in stress
and mortality risk; costs such as decreases in well-being and disease resistance are also
apparent.
Measurement of Social Ties/Social Support
One problem encountered in the study of social relationships is the lack of
consistency in the measurement of social support and social ties. Many investigators
have noted the absence of clarity in the operationalization and measurement of social
support (Glass, Mendes de Leon, Seeman, & Berkman, 1997; Heitzmann & Kaplan, 1988;
Sarason, Sarason, & Gurung, 1997; Sarason et al., 1987; Schaefer et al., 1981), and some
have attempted to address this problem by differentiating among the outcomes of
different aspects of social support (Cohen, 2004; Schaefer et al., 1981), examining the
relations among social support measures (Sarason et al., 1987), and conducting a factor
analysis of various indicators of social networks (Glass et al., 1997). Cohens (2004)
research indicates that perceived social support and social integration lead to clearly
different health outcomes; perceived social support tends to act as a buffer in the face of
stress, whereas social integration is generally helpful during both stressful and non
stressful times. Perceived social support and social integration were also differentiated
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by Schaefer, Coyne, and Lazarus (1981); perceived social support was more strongly
related to depression than was social integration. An examination of the interrelations
among various measures of social support indicated that received social support is
relatively unrelated to social network size (Sarason et al., 1987). Of particular interest to
the present study is the result of a factor analysis of social network items, which showed
that ties with four types of contacts comprise social networks: children, relatives, friends,
and a confidant (Glass et al., 1997). Despite these efforts, more work is needed to
determine the common components of social networks and social support measured by
the various scales that exist, and to compare the relative predictive values of each of the
resulting components of social support. The identification of these factors and their
relations with mortality are the first and second foci of the proposed study.
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THE PRESENT STUDY
In an effort to determine the main factors of social support, the first aim of the
present study is to clarify the main components measured by six social support scales that
have been identified as widely-used and theoretically relevant. This clarification will be
approached through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).
A subsequent step in uncovering each social support factors individual relation
with longevity would be to recruit a study sample, assess their levels of the main factors
of social support, and follow them over time to determine how long they live; however,
time constraints prevent the execution of such a study. Therefore, an alternative is to
access a longitudinal data set with information on both the participants levels of these
social support factors and their age at death. This alternative will be undertaken using
data from the archival longitudinal Terman Life-Cycle Study to determine the
associations between each resulting social support factor and longevity. Participants in
the Terman Life-Cycle Study (formerly called the Gifted Children Study) were originally
recruited for a study of gifted children; since the start of the study in 1921, they have
been providing psychological and social data every 4-12 years until their deaths (83% are
now dead). Thus, this rich source of life-span data is an ideal data set with which to
investigate relations between various aspects of social support and longevity.
Validity of Scales Constructed from Archival Data
One issue, however, that must first be addressed is the consonance of the items
used in the factor analysis with a contemporary sample with those in the archival data set
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(Martin & Friedman, 2000). A method must be implemented to ensure that each set of
archival items used to create these social support factors measures the same construct as
the items in the factors of the contemporary social support scales. To examine the
validity of the archival scales, a useful strategy is to assess measurement invariance of the
two sets of items, that is, to verify that participants respond to the contemporary and
archival items in the same way (Reise, Widaman, & Pugh, 1993), Measurement
invariance can be established by comparing the factor structure of the two sets of items;
equivalent factor structures indicate measurement invariance (de Frias & Dixon, 2005).
This method of assessing measurement variance is common among researchers seeking
to establish that an assessment device operates equivalently in different populations. For
example, Australian researchers used this technique to demonstrate that the General
Health Questionnaire measures equivalent constructs in both adults and adolescents
(French & Tait, 2004). Additionally, Facteau and Craig (2001) verified that a
performance appraisal rating system was invariant across different groups of raters by
comparing the factor structure of the instrument across groups. This technique has also
been used with the data set used in the present study: Martin (1996) established
measurement invariance of the responses to items in the Revised NEO Personality
Inventory (NEO PI-R; Costa & McCrae, 1992) among a sample of contemporary
participants and the personality items rated by archival participants. Using a comparison
of factor structures of a measure to establish measurement invariance is also particularly
useful to cross-cultural researchers seeking to use a measure in different cultures. Robie
and Ryan (1996), for example, determined with this method that a measure of cross-
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cultural adjustment functions equivalently among international students in the United
States and American workers in Taiwan and Belgium. Likewise, the measurement
invariance of the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire was determined by the
equivalence of factor structures in Italian and Dutch samples (Leone, Van der Zee, van
Oudenhoven, Perugini, & Ercolani, 2005). In the present study, the factor structures of
the responses to the archival social support items by the archival and contemporary
participants will be compared to assess measurement invariance.
After measurement invariance has been established, rational analysis, a process in
which judges blind to the researchers predictions rate each items fit (McCrae, Costa, &
Piedmont, 1993) with the key factors of social support, was employed. McCrae, Costa,
and Piedmont (1993) used this process by asking judges to interpret each of the items and
make a determination about their representativeness of a category. In that case, judges
rated how well each item in the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) represented
each of the personality factors in the five-factor model as part of a comparison between
the CPI scales and the five-factor model. In the present study, the archival social support
items were compared to the social support factors resulting from the factor analysis. This
will involved using several trained judges (psychology graduate students) to rate the
correspondence of each of the archival items with the scales resulting from the factor
analysis with contemporary social support scales. Finally, correlations between the social
support factors resulting from the factor analysis and the relevant items in the Terman
data set were used to indicate the strength of their relations. This method follows that
developed by Martin (1996) to validate that items in the Terman data set represent the
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Big Five personality factors. After it was verified that the items drawn from the Terman
data set represent these key aspects of social support, the second aim of the study can be
addressed; the resulting factors can be used to predict mortality in the Terman data set.
Hypotheses
With regard to the first aim of the study (factor analysis of social support scales),
it is predicted that the factors that emerge will replicate or be informative about the
following scheme: 1) social network size, 2) perceived available support, 3) satisfaction
with support, 4) providing support to others, and 5) negative interactions (see Figure 1).
Second, it is predicted that measurement invariance will be established for these factors
of social support.
Third, in terms of associations between the social support factors and mortality
risk, social network size and giving support to others are predicted to be independently
associated with lower mortality risk, whereas perceived available support and satisfaction
with support are predicted to be unassociated with mortality risk. We will not consider
negative interactions as a predictor of mortality because only one item exists in the
relevant years in the Terman data set related to negative interactions (i.e., indifferent or
hostile relations with family. In using these different factors to predict mortality, it is
possible to compare different aspects of social ties to determine which aspects are health-
beneficial, and which have no relation with health or are harmful.
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METHOD
Contemporary participants
The participants in the first part of the study (CFA of social support scales and
validation of archival scales) were 265 adults (177 female, 87 male, 1 declined to indicate)
over the age of 35. These older adult participants were recruited via the University of
California, Riverside Psychology Department participant pool; these participant pool
recruits provided the names and addresses of parents and other relatives to whom surveys
containing the six contemporary social support measures and the archival social support
items were mailed. Of the 762 surveys distributed, 276 were returned, yielding a
response rate of 36%. The adult sample ranges in age from 36 to 81 years, with a mean
age of 50.13 years. Various ethnicities are represented; the sample consists of 104
Caucasian, 65 Asian/Pacific Islander, 51 Hispanic/Latino, 19 African American/Black,
11 Southeast Asian, 4 Middle Eastern, 4 biracial, and 5 participants who identified
themselves as other (2 participants declined to indicate their ethnicity). Despite
instructions to the participant pool students to provide names and addresses of relatives
who were at least 35 years old, 11 surveys returned were unusable due to their inability to
meet this age criterion. Participants were further eliminated from analyses on the basis of
their non-responses to items. Thirty-six participants failed to provide enough information
on certain items for complete data to be generated, resulting in a final sample size of 229
participants.
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Archival participants
To establish measurement invariance, the factor structures of items drawn from
the archival data set thought to represent various facets of social support were compared
in the contemporary and archival samples. The participants in the archival sample, in
which the resulting social support factors were used to predict longevity, were from the
Terman Life-Cycle study data set. Initiated in 1921, the Terman Life-Cycle Study
(formerly the Gifted Children Study) included 1,528 school-age children (856 men and
672 women, average year of birth was 1910; Terman & Oden, 1947) who were followed
at 5-10 year intervals throughout their lives. The participants were recruited on the basis
of their intelligence (IQ > 135); Termans original aim was to study gifted children. The
data have been refined and updated by Friedman and colleagues (1995), culminating in
the collection of death certificates of the participants through 2005. Although the sample
is fairly homogeneous with respect to ethnicity (White), social class (middle class), and
intelligence (Terman, 1925), the psychological, social, and behavioral variables have
considerable variability.
Consistent with previous studies of psychosocial predictors of longevity using the
Terman data set (e.g., Friedman et al., 1993), participants who were not of school age at
the start of the study in 1921 (i.e., were not bom between 1904 and 1915, inclusive; N =
155) were not included in analyses. Furthermore, participants who died or were lost to
follow-up before 1940 (N = 77) were excluded from all analyses. Two hundred sixty-
seven of the remaining 1296 participants died by 1977, leaving 1029 participants. Of
these, the number of participants who responded to questions regarding their social
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relationships in 1977 ranged from 616 (379 men, 237 women) to 726 (379 men, 347
women). Two hundred thirty-three participants died between 1977 and 1986. In 1986,
questions were again posed regarding various aspects of the participants social
relationships; the number of respondents to these questions ranged from 347 (193 men,
154 women) to 630 (327 men, 303 women). Because the response rate to eight of the
archival items under initial consideration was relatively low, these items were not used.
Complete data were available or able to be generated via a prorating method (described
below) for 437 participants in the archival sample.
Measures
Social Network Index (SNI; Berkman & Syme, 1977). The SNI uses 10 multiple-
choice items to assess the number of respondents social ties (e.g., How many close
friends do you have?). The sources of social contact included are marriage, close
friends and relatives, church membership, and informal and formal group associations.
Six-item short form of the Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ6; Sarason et al.,
1983). The SSQ6 measures the number of respondents perceived available supports, the
number of perceived available family supports, and satisfaction with perceived available
support (6 items; e.g., Whom can you really count on to distract you from your worries
when you feel under stress?). In each item, the participants indicate how many people
provide them with a type of support, then rate their level of satisfaction with that support
on a 6-point Likert scale (1 = very dissatisfied to 6 = very satisfied). The original SSQ
items were derived from a factor analysis of a larger group of items measuring social
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support. Validity and reliability testing have been conducted with the SSQ6, showing
high correspondence with the original SSQ as well as high internal reliability.
Items measuring the provision of instrumental support to others (Brown et al.,
2003). Four dichotomous (yes/no) items were developed by Brown et al. (2003) to assess
whether or not the respondents have given instrumental support to friends, neighbors, and
relatives in the past 12 months. The specific types of instrumental support include help
with transportation, housework, child care, and other tasks (e.g., In the past 12 months,
have you helped friends, neighbors, or relatives other than a spouse with child care?).
National Health Interview Survey, 1985-1989 (Chyba & Washington, 1993). Five
items regarding social relationships were selected from Section KK (height, weight,
relationships, and social activities) of the larger National Health Interview Survey
conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These open-ended
questions assess the perceived availability of support and participation in social activities
(e.g., How many relatives do you have that you can talk to about private matters or can
call on for help?).
Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS; Lubben, 1988). This scale was developed
to measure the social networks of elderly individuals. Items are based on the SNI
(Berkman & Syme, 1977), but were adapted to address the networks of older individuals,
who vary less in their participation in organizations and marital status than younger
individuals. Ten multiple-choice items inquire about family networks, friends networks,
confidant relationships, and helping others (e.g., How many relatives do you see or hear
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from at least once a month?). High intercorrelations among the items signify the
reliability of the scale.
Social support items in the MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging questionnaire
(Gurung, Taylor, & Seeman, 2003). Researchers involved in the MacArthur Studies of
Successful Aging developed 17 multiple-choice items to measure participants frequency
of receiving instrumental and emotional social support as well as conflict and excessive
demands in relationships with their spouse, children, friends, and other family (e.g.,
How often are your children critical?).
Archival measures of social relationships
The 1977 questionnaire completed by participants in the Terman Life-Cycle
Study (mean age of the full sample 67 years) included 8 items related to the availability
of and satisfaction with social support. These items address the participants frequency
of visiting and communicating with relatives, informal visiting with friends and
neighbors, entertaining, helping friends or neighbors, doing community service with a
group, doing community service at home, and their satisfaction with friendships and
social contacts. In the 1986 questionnaire, 14 questions addressed various aspects of
social relations and activities, including the participants number of intimate and
companionate relationships with friends and intimate, companionate, and casual
relationships with family and close relatives; satisfaction with the amount of intimacy and
companionship in relationships with friends and family; and frequency of meetings with
social groups, informal visiting with friends, neighbors, and children, community service
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with organizations, and helping others (Table 1 shows the archival social support items).
All of the responses to these items were self-reported.
Procedures
First, students in the participant pool read and signed an informed consent
statement and completed a survey with the six social support questionnaires and the
social support items from the archival data set in our laboratory (completion time ranged
from 15 to 45 minutes; all participants received course credit for their participation).
Next, trained research assistants explained to the participants the importance to the study
of also having other participants over the age of 35, and those participants who agreed to
provide their parents or other relatives mailing address were asked to sign a card to their
parents and address a mailing envelope to their parents (or other relatives). All
participants were debriefed before leaving the laboratory. We then mailed the relatives a
packet containing an informed consent statement, the social support survey containing the
SNI (Berkman & Syme, 1977), the SSQ6 (Sarason et al., 1983), four items measuring the
provision of instrumental support to others (Brown et al., 2003), five items from the
National Health Interview Survey, 1985-1989 (Chyba & Washington, 1993), the LSNS
(Lubben, 1988), 17 social support items in the MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging
questionnaire (Gurung, Taylor, & Seeman, 2003), and the archival items; a debriefing
statement, a letter requesting their consent to participate; the card signed by the student
who provided their address; a self-addressed, stamped envelope; and a pen as a token of
appreciation.
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Analysis
Factor analysis of contemporary scales. The first set of analyses was conducted
to address the first hypothesis (regarding the factor structure of the contemporary social
support measures in a contemporary sample). Because the rating scale for items both
within and across the six contemporary scales is not consistent, some dichotomous items
were combined to maintain a uniform rating scale. First, the six items from the Social
Network Index (Berkman & Syme, 1977), which have a dichotomous (yes/no) response
format, were combined to form one summary item, with possible scores ranging from
zero to six. This method was also used to combine five dichotomous items from the scale
measuring giving support to others (Brown et al., 2003) and one dichotomous item from
the Lubben Social Network Scale (Lubben, 1988).
An additional issue regarding the rating scales should be noted. Six items in the
original Social Support Questionnaire (Sarason et al., 1983) ask participants to list
members of their social network who fulfill various social support needs, but participants
are asked to limit this number to nine or fewer members. Because this instruction was
confusing to participants in a pilot study, contemporary participants were not given this
limit, but responses were subsequently coded to reflect the limit (i.e., when more than
nine members were mentioned, the response was coded as nine).
To reduce the number of observed variables in the factor analysis, several-item
multidimensional parcels were constructed. Some experts advocate the use of item
parcels, rather than individual items, in factor analysis due to the greater reliability of
parceled than individual items, and thus a greater likelihood of obtaining adequate factor
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solutions (Cattell, 1974). There has been some discussion in the literature regarding the
relative utility of using unidimensional parcels, which involves combining similar items
(e.g., based on face validity or factor loadings) and multidimensional parcels, in which
items representing different dimensions are combined into a parcel. Kishton and
Widaman (1994) found that the use of either unidimensional or multidimensional
(domain representative) parcels is effective. In the present study, multidimensional
parcels were used because each construct hypothesized to constitute social support (e.g.,
social networks, perceived available support) is thought to be multidimensional in nature.
The first step in constructing the multidimensional parcels was to determine which
construct within social support each item represents. To do so, six graduate students in
social/personality or developmental psychology were recruited to rate how well each item
represents each social support construct (social network size, perceived available support,
satisfaction with support, negative interactions, and providing support to others; using a
1-5 scale). For each item, the median rating was calculated within each construct; items
with a median of 3.5 or higher were considered representative of that construct (see
Tables 2-6 for the median ratings of each item for each category and assignments to
categories). When an item received a median rating of 3.5 or higher for more than one
category, it was assigned to the category for which it received the higher median rating
(N = 10). For cases in which an item median rating was equivalent across more than one
construct (N = 5), items were assigned to the construct for which the standard deviation
of the ratings was smaller. Next, exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation was
employed to assign items to parcels; within each construct, the highest loading item in
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each factor was assigned to be in parcel 1, the second highest loading item in each factor
was assigned to parcel 2, and so on. When the items were not distributed evenly across
factors, resulting in leftover items in a factor, the two items within the factor with the
lowest correlation were assigned to the same factor. For example, four items
representing the social networks category (number of friends with whom participant feels
at ease, number of friends heard from at least once a month, number of friends whom
participant can call on for help, and number of close friends) loaded on the same factor;
the two items with the lowest correlation (number of friends heard from at least once a
month, number of close friends; r .52) were assigned to the same parcel (parcel 1),
whereas each of the other two items (number of friends with whom participant feels at
ease, number of friends whom participant can call on for help) were assigned to parcels 2
and 3, respectively. Tables 7-10 show the factor loadings of items within each category.
Because there were only 3 items related to providing social support to others, each of the
3 parcels representing this category contained only one item. In each parcel, the items
were summed and standardized using z-scores before being used as observed variables in
the CFA (Tables 11-15 show the items in each parcel for each category).
After all parcels were standardized, a correlation matrix for the 16 parcels in the
six contemporary social support scales was constructed to allow examination of the
relations among the parcels. Complete data are necessary for inclusion in the correlation
matrix; due to missing data, a prorating technique was employed to maximize the number
of cases of compete data. Specifically, if no more than two thirds of the items in a parcel
were missing data, the parcel score was calculated with the following formula: parcel
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score = (sum of available responses x n of available and missing responses)/sum of
available responses. For example, the first parcel representing perceived available
support contains five items (number of people participant can count on when feeling
generally down-in-the-dumps, frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and
cared for, frequency of children listening to participants worries, frequency of
communication with friend with whom participant has most contact, and frequency of
being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily tasks); if all items had
responses except for frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help
with daily tasks, the parcel score would be calculated by multiplying the sum of the four
available responses by 5, then dividing this product by 4. This method was used to
maximize the number of cases with complete data in both the contemporary and archival
samples.
Next, CFA was used to determine whether the factor structure of the scales has a
good fit to the proposed five-factor model (using Mx version 1.55; Neale, Boker, Xie, &
Maes, 2003). Chi-square, Akaike Information Criterion (AIC), and Root Mean Squared
Error Index (RMSEA) fit indices were used to determine the fit of the models, and the
Normed Fit Index (NFI) and the Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI) were used to compare the fits
of different models. Chi-square is useful in comparing the relative fit of different models
(Loehlin, 2004); a difference chi-square test signals whether one model is significantly
better than another. AIC is an indicator of the fit of the data with an estimated model
(Stevens, 2002); smaller values represent better fit (Ullman, 1996). RMSEA is a useful
indicator of model fit in that it does not rely heavily on sample size, where a common
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criterion for reasonable fit is RMSEA of .08 or less (Loehlin, 2004). When seeking to
determine which of two nested models has a better fit, both the NFI and TLI can be used.
The NFI is an index of comparative fit that compares a specific model to a baseline
model, with higher values indicating a better fit (Loehlin, 2004). The TLI, also known as
the nonnormed fit index, compares the chi-square of each model, and takes degrees of
freedom into account (Ullman, 1996). A null model will be compared to a 1-factor, 4-
factor, and 5-factor model to determine the best fit (the 4-factor model combines the
factors of perceived available support and satisfaction with support into one factor per
previous research that fails to differentiate between these constructs).
Measurement invariance. When validating that scales from a new sample are
represented by items in an archival data set, it is important to ensure that the two cohorts
(contemporary and archival) respond to the items in a comparable manner (i.e.,
measurement invariance; Horn & McArdle, 1992); this matter is addressed by the second
hypothesis, that measurement invariance will be established for all five factors of social
support. In the present study, CFA was used to demonstrate that each sample produces
comparable factor structures of the scales (weak measurement invariance; Horn &
McArdle, 1992). CFA allows a comparison of model fit between two groups with a chi-
square difference test for nested models.
Rational analysis. The next important step in validating the social support scales
in the archival data set is to establish their validity using rational analyses. McCrae,
Costa, and Piedmont (1993) used a rational item content analytic process in which judges
interpret each of the items and make a determination about their representativeness of a
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category. In that case, judges rated how well each item in the California Psychological
Inventory (CPI) represents each of the personality factors in the five-factor model as part
of a comparison between the CPI scales and the five-factor model. In the present study,
the archival social support items were compared to the social support categories resulting
from the factor analysis. This involved using six judges (psychology graduate students)
to rate the correspondence of each of the archival items with the scales resulting from the
factor analysis with contemporary social support scales. The reliability of the judges
ratings was estimated by calculating the interjudge correlations for each pair of judges.
Correlations. The final step in validating the scales in the archival data set was
correlating the social support factors derived from the factor analysis with the
contemporary sample with the items in the Terman data set. These correlations indicate
how closely related the items from the contemporary scales and the archival scales are.
Prediction of longevity. To address the third hypothesis, after the contemporary
social support scales were validated in the Terman sample, the archival data were used to
estimate the mortality risk through 2004 associated with each of the social support factors
(constructed from variables measured in 1977 and 1986). Of interest are both the relation
of the individual factors of social support with mortality risk (individual Cox proportional
hazards regressions) and each factors relative association with mortality risk
(simultaneous Cox proportional hazards regression). The simultaneous Cox proportional
hazards regression permits the examination of each factors association with mortality
risk as it relates to the others, such that each association takes into account the relation
between the other factors and mortality risk.
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RESULTS
Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Contemporary Social Support Scales
The hypothesized five-factor model included the following factors: 1) social
network, 2) perceived available support, 3) satisfaction with support, 4) giving social
support, and 5) negative interactions. Confirmatory factor analysis, using a correlation
matrix of the 16 multidimensional item parcels, was used to perform maximum-
likelihood estimation of the models. To determine the best-fitting model, a null model
(with no factors) was compared to 1-factor, 4-factor, and 5-factor model. Table 16
displays the model-fitting results. As predicted, the 5-factor model showed the best fit to
the data (RMSEA = 0.06). Figure 2 shows the model estimates for the final 5-factor
model of items from contemporary social support scales.
Measurement Invariance
Before attempting to establish measurement invariance by comparing the factor
structure of the archival social support items across the contemporary and archival
samples, initial factor structures must be identified within each sample. Because the CFA
of the contemporary scales showed that five factors best represent items frequently used
to assess social support, this five-factor model was sought with the archival social support
items in both the contemporary and archival samples. However, due to the paucity of
archival items assessing negative social relations, only four factors could be explored.
These are social network size, perceived available support, satisfaction with support, and
providing support to others. Consistent with predictions, in the archival sample, the best-
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fitting model was a 4-factor model (RMSEA = 0.09; model-fitting results are shown in
Table 17), with social networks, perceived available support, satisfaction with support,
and providing support representing the resulting factors (see Figure 3). This four-factor
structure of the archival social support items was replicated in the contemporary sample
(RMSEA = 0.10; see Table 18 for model-fitting results).
The next step in establishing measurement invariance involves fitting the same
factor model with each (archival and contemporary) sample, and comparing a constrained
model in which the factor loadings are forced to be equal across the two samples to a free
model that allows the inter-factor correlations, factor loadings, and error terms to vary
across the samples. Weak measurement invariance, which requires only the factor
loadings to be equivalent across samples, was examined; a chi-square difference test
indicated that the fully free model was significantly different from the model in which the
factor loadings were constrained to be equal across the two samples, but the inter-factor
correlations and error terms were free to vary (Ay2 = 46.30, Adf= 18,p = .0003). The
free, fully constrained, and partially constrained model comparisons are shown in Table
19.
Although this attempt at establishing measurement invariance was unsuccessful, it
was subsequently noted upon observation of the factor structures across the archival and
contemporary samples that only one factor (satisfaction with social support) appeared to
differ substantially across the two samples. The remaining factors (social networks,
perceived social support, giving social support), however, appeared to have similar factor
loadings in the archival and contemporary samples. Therefore, a new comparison of
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models was made between the folly free model and a model in which the factor loadings,
correlations, and error terms associated with the satisfaction factor were free to vary, but
the remaining factor loadings, correlations, and error terms were fixed to be equal across
the archival and contemporary samples. The results of this comparison showed that
measurement invariance was established with respect to the social networks, perceived
available support, and giving social support factors; the folly free model and the model
with only the parameters related to satisfaction with support free to vary were not
significantly different (Ax2 = 28.48, Adf= 33,p = .69; see Table 19). Therefore,
measurement invariance was established for three of the four social support factors
(social networks, perceived available support, giving social support).
Correlational Analysis
After establishing measurement invariance of the three factors of social support,
correlations between the archival and contemporary factors were used to establish the
validity of the archival factors. Pearson correlations were computed among the social
support factors created from the archival and contemporary items (see Table 20). To
determine whether the reliability of the factors contributed to their inter-correlations, the
correlations were again computed using a structural equation model, which takes the
factors reliabilities into account (see Table 21). In each case, it is clear that the three
factors of social support, rather than being distinct, are quite related to one another. For
example, the correlation between the archival and contemporary items measuring social
networks is .54 (p < .0001), but the archival social network items are also strongly related
to the contemporary items assessing perceived available support (r = .53, p < .0001) and
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providing support to others (r = .31 ,P< .0001). Further, the archival items representing
perceived available support are more strongly related to the contemporary social network
items (r = .44, p < .0001) than to the items representing perceived available support from
the contemporary scales (r = .34,/? < .0001). The archival items that measure providing
support to others strongly related to the contemporary items measuring the same
construct (r = .49, p < .0001), but have high correlations with those measuring perceived
available support (r = .48,/? < .0001) and social networks (r = .53,/? < .0001).
Rational Analysis
The final step in validating that the archival items represent social support factors
resulting from contemporary social support scales was to use rational analysis (to ensure
that the archival and contemporary items representing each factor are interpreted
similarly). Using the method established by McCrae, Costa, and Piedmont (1993), six
judges (graduate students in psychology) rated on a 5-point scale how well each archival
item represents each factor. To assess the judges reliability, inter-judge correlations
were computed and averaged for each factor of social support. For social networks, the
inter-judge correlations ranged from -.17 (p > .05) to .81 (p< .0001), with an average
inter-judge correlation of .25 (median inter-judge correlation = .17); for perceived
available support, the inter-judge correlations ranged from .33 (p > .05) to .97 (p < .0001),
with an average inter-judge correlation of .67 (median inter-judge correlation = .68); and
for providing support to others, the inter-judge correlations ranged from .21 (p > .05)
to .94 (p < .0001), with an average inter-judge correlation of .60 (median inter-judge
correlation = .66).
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Employing judges to rate each items fit with each factor of social support was
used as an indicator of the rational content of the four factors. The mean rating for each
set of items archival items indicating the raters judgments of the fit of each item with the
factor of social support (social network size, perceived available support, and providing
support to others) are presented in Table 22. These ratings indicate that the judges were
in agreement that the items in the archival data set that best represents the factor of
perceived available support is that thought to represent perceived available support (mean
rating = 4.67). Additionally, the archival items highest rated as representing the
providing support factor were those assigned to providing support (mean rating = 4.39).
However, the judges did not perceive the items selected by the researcher to assess social
network size to strongly represent social network size (mean rating = 2.83), although
ratings were higher for this set of archival items than for the other factors that could have
been assigned.
Mortality Risk
Cox proportional hazards regression, a form a survival analysis which can account
for censored data and does not make an assumption about the shape of the survival
function, was used to estimate each social support factors independent association with
mortality risk in the archival participants. The results indicate that, of the three
established factors of social support, only social networks were reliability associated with
mortality risk, indicating a slight decrease in risk with increasing size of social networks
(rh = 0.94, p < .04, N = 533). These analyses were also conducted separately by sex; it
appears that the benefits of social networks are not specific to men or women, but rather
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to the total sample of participants. The remaining 2 factors (perceived available support,
providing support) were unassociated with mortality risk (see Table 23 for results for
men, women, and the total sample).
A simultaneous Cox proportional hazards regression was also conducted to
examine how each factor of social support relates to mortality risk while taking into
account the other two factors. The results of the simultaneous analysis show that when
all of the social support factors are entered into the equation at the same time, giving
social support to others emerges as a slight protective factor (rh = 0.94,/? < .004, N =
301). Again, the analyses were conducted separately for men and women; the results
indicate that for men in particular, there is a relation between providing support and
decreased mortality risk when social networks and perceived available support are taken
into account (rh = 0.93,/? < .01, N = 158; see Table 24).
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DISCUSSION
Summary of Findings
The goals of the present study were to identify the primary factors measured by
commonly used contemporary measures of social support, validate that certain items in
an archival data set measure these factors of social support, and determine how each
factor of social support is related to mortality risk. With regard to the first goal, it was
hypothesized that the primary factors of social support are social network ties, perceived
available support, satisfaction with support, providing support to others, and negative
interactions. A confirmatory factor analysis revealed that these five hypothesized factors
do, indeed, represent the constructs being measured by contemporary social support
measures such as the Social Network Index (Berkman & Syme, 1977) and the scale used
by the MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging (Gurung et al., 2003). This goal sought to
address the inconsistency in the operationalization of social support in the vast literature,
as well as determine if such definitional inconsistency might help account for the absence
of consistent findings linking social support with health outcomes. Similar studies
striving to identify the primary factors of social support have found different factors of
social support; however, most of these studies restricted their investigation to only more
limited, specific types of social support (e.g., social networks; e.g., Glass et al., 1997).
Given the social support literatures need for a clear identification of the main factors of
social support, and the present studys examination of commonly-used social support
scales addressing the many aspects of social support, the present results provide a step
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toward a better understanding of what constitutes social support, as well as how the
different aspects of social support can be effectively measured.
The second goal of the present study was to determine whether items drawn from
an archival data set could measure those factors of social support resulting from the factor
analysis of contemporary social support scales (social networks, perceived available
support, satisfaction with support, providing support to others, and negative interactions).
To do so, the factor model identified in the contemporary sample was modeled in the
archival sample (with the exception of negative social relationships, for which there were
not enough items in the archival data set). The best-fitting model in the archival sample
was a four-factor model, with social networks, perceived available support, satisfaction
with support, and providing support to others. When a model constraining the factor
structures of the items to be equivalent across samples was compared to the model
allowing the factor structures to vary across samples, it was determined that measurement
invariance could not be established fully; the factor models across the two samples
differed significantly. However, when the factor representing satisfaction with support
was removed from the model due to observation of its poor fit indicators, the criteria for
strict measurement invariance were met. Thus, it was concluded that the factors of social
networks, perceived available support, and providing support to others from the
contemporary social support scales were indeed represented by items drawn from the
archival data set. These items were therefore available for use in examining how each of
these factors relates to mortality risk.
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Although it was hypothesized that full measurement invariance would be
established, having only partial measurement invariance, with three of the four factors
measured consistently across the two sets of items, is useful nonetheless. An
understanding of how the three factors for which measurement invariance could be
established (social network size, perceived available support, and providing support to
others) individually and simultaneously relate to mortality risk is of great interest. Why
was the measurement of satisfaction with support different across time and samples?
Perhaps generational difference in the social norms regarding expressing dissatisfaction
with family and other relations is responsible for this difference.
With regard to the correlational analysis of the congruence between the archival
and contemporary social support items, it was hoped that there would be clear
distinctions between the four aspects of social support, with the items representing the
same factor of social support having strong correlations across samples, but with weak
correlations with the other factors. The results showed that although there were strong
correlations across samples between the same factors of social support, there were also
strong correlations between each factor and other factors across the two samples. In fact,
in the case of the archival factors of both perceived available support and providing
support, the inter-sample correlations were higher with the contemporary factors of social
network size than with the same factor. This result may be explained by the nature of the
construct of social support, which perhaps is not composed of distinct, orthogonal factors,
but instead factors that are very much related to each other. It makes intuitive sense that
the amount of support one perceives to be available to him or her is highly dependent on
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ones social network size. Likewise, the amount of support one provides to others is
surely affected by the size of ones social network. Therefore, although it was initially
expected that each factor of social support represented by archival items would be most
highly correlated with the same factor measured by contemporary items, it is not
surprising that the factors are all highly intercorrelated.
Rational analysis, with six trained judges, was employed to investigate the
rational content of each archival item and to what extent each represents the associated
factor of social support. These ratings indicate that, on the whole, the archival factors
reasonably reflect the judges understanding of these factors of social support, and
provide evidence beyond the measurement invariance of the scales that the archival items
are appropriate to measure social network size, perceived available support, and
providing support to others.
The third goal of the study was to understand how different aspects of support,
both individually and together, relate to later mortality risk. Previous research has shown
that social network size is a strong predictor of mortality risk in the long-term; the results
of the present study were consistent with these prior findings. It was hypothesized that
perceived available support would not be associated with mortality risk; although
previous research has shown that perceived available support is important to
psychological outcomes (e.g., Sarason & Sarason, 1994), ties to mortality risk have not
been reported. Consistent with this hypothesis, perceived available support was not
related to mortality risk in the archival sample. Finally, due to recent findings that giving
support to others is associated with longevity, it was hypothesized that giving support
35
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would be predictive of mortality risk in the archival sample. This hypothesis was not
supported by the results of the individual Cox proportional hazards regression; there was
no association between giving support and mortality risk. However, when all three of
these social support factors were simultaneously examined as predictors of mortality risk,
giving support was shown to be related to mortality risk.
The result that social network size is predictive of decreased mortality risk is
consistent with much of the previous literature on the relation between social networks
and mortality risk (e.g., Berkman & Syme, 1979; House et al., 1982). Thus, it appears
that the number of social contacts one has, rather than the perceived availability of
support, is important in later health outcomes. It was also not surprising that perceived
available support was unrelated to mortality risk; previous literature has shown that,
while the perceived availability of support may be crucial for psychological outcomes,
links to physical health outcomes have not been demonstrated. It was surprising, in light
of recent research pointing to providing social support as a key predictor of longevity
(Brown et al., 2003; Brown et al., 2005), that the results found here show no relation
between providing support and longevity. However, further information about the nature
of the relations between different aspects of social support and mortality risk was
revealed by the simultaneous proportional hazards regression with social network size,
perceived available support, and providing support to others as predictors. Results of this
analysis show that providing support is, in fact, a predictor of decreased mortality risk
when social network size and perceived availability of support are taken into account.
Perhaps it is the case that, due to the relation between providing support and social
36
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network size, it is difficult to detect any association between providing support and
mortality risk unless the variance attributed to social network size is controlled. That
providing support is, in fact, a predictor of lower mortality risk is consistent with
previous findings (Brown et al., 2003; Brown et al., 2005).
Limitations
Although much can be learned from these results, it is important to note several
limitations of the present study. First, the archival sample is homogeneous in terms of
ethnicity (mostly White), social class (mostly middle), and intelligence (all highly
intelligent). These sample restrictions provide some benefits for investigations related to
health outcomes; any effects of differential access to health care or similar opportunities
are minimal, allowing a clearer picture of relations between psychosocial variables and
health outcomes to emerge. However, these restrictions also limit the generalizability of
results to other populations. Despite these differences between the archival sample and
other populations, it is unlikely that any relations found between psychological or social
factors and later mortality risk in the archival sample are different from these relations in
other populations. Yet, there may be noteworthy differences in the social relationships
between a group of individuals bom in the early 20th century and later generations. The
tenor of social times partially dictates family structure, social organizations, and other
sources of social ties, perhaps making comparisons between the social ties of individuals
in the archival sample and later generations difficult. In spite of this potential limitation,
the results of the analysis of measurement invariance show that, for the factors of social
37
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network, perceived available support, and providing support to others, the interpretation
of questions assessing these factors does not appear to be different across decades.
A second potential limitation regards the nature of the contemporary sample
recruited for the present study. This sample consisted of the parents and other relatives of
undergraduate students at a public university. First, given that all of these participants are
related to a university student (and, in most cases, a parent of a university student), there
may be a floor effect on the size of participants social networks, perceived available
support, and provision of support. Second, there were 72 cases in which more than one
participant was recruited via the same undergraduate student (e.g., both mother and father
of a student), causing non-independence of observations. To determine whether this non
independence might change the outcome, confirmatory factor analyses were conducted
within a reduced sample, in which all observations were independent (N = 165). Similar
results emerged; the five-factor model was still the best fit to the data, demonstrating that
the same pattern results whether or not the sample includes non-independent observations.
Implications
After selecting six frequently-used measures of different aspects of support and
conducting factor analyses on the items, it was determined that the main constructs being
measured by these scales are social network size, perceived available support, satisfaction
with support, providing support, and negative interactions. The results of this factor
analysis serve to clarify the existing confusion and disagreement regarding how social
support should be measured; it appears that these five factors of social support encompass
what is being measured by social support measures in use. Furthermore, after identifying
38
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these five factors, those for which measurement invariance could be established (social
network size, perceived available support, and providing support) were used to predict
mortality risk; an advantage to the present design is that these different aspects of social
support can be examined simultaneously as predictors of mortality risk. Support was
found for the importance of both the size of ones network and providing support to
others in later health, though the perceived availability of support was not related to
mortality risk. Unfortunately, one of the resulting factors of social support, negative
interactions, could not be explored further in relation to mortality risk because only one
item assessing negative interactions was available in the archival data set. Future studies
should investigate the role of the negative aspects of social interactions in health
outcomes, particularly in light of research pointing to interpersonal conflict as a
significant predictor of both psychological and physical health outcomes (e.g., Burg &
Seeman, 1994; Ingersoll-Dayton et al., 1997; Newsom, Nishishiba, Morgan, & Rook,
2003; Newsom et al., 2005; Rook, 1984).
39
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Table 1
Items Assessing Social Support in Archival Data Set, 1977 and 1986
Year of Assessment Item
1977 Number of organizational affiliations
Frequency of participating in visiting with relatives
Frequency of participating in visiting with friends and neighbors
Frequency of participating in entertaining
Frequency of participating in helping friends and neighbors
Frequency of participating in community service
Lifetime satisfaction with friendships/social contacts
Lifetime satisfaction with community service activities
Number of companionable friendships
Number of casual friendships
Satisfaction with the amount of intimacy and companionship provided
by friends
Number of intimate family relationships
Number of companionable family relationships
Number of casual family relationships
Number of indifferent or hostile family relationships
Satisfaction in the amount of intimacy and companionship provided by
family
Providing care or assistance to a friend or relative
Frequency of meetings of social groups, clubs
Frequency of informal visiting with friends, neighbors, children
Frequency of community service with organizations
Frequency of helping others (friends, neighbors, children)_________
1986 Number of intimate friendships
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Table 2
Means and Standard Deviations ofJudges Ratings of Items Fit with Social Networks
Category
Item Median SD
Number of close friends* 5.0 0.41
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help* 5.0 0.41
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help* 5.0 0.41
Number of close relatives* 5.0 0.52
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease* 5.0 0.82
Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease* 5.0 0.84
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month* 4.5 1.47
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month* 4.0 1.38
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership* 3.5 0.82
Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-
the-dumps 3.5 0.82
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities* 3.5 1.05
Number of friends heard from at least once a month* 3.5 1.05
Frequency of attendance at religious services* 3.5 1 . 2 1
Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her 3.0 0.75
Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very
upset 3.0 0.75
Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important
decision to make 3.0 0.75
Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more
relaxed when under pressure 3.0 0.98
Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most
contact 3.0 0.98
Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries 3.0 1.03
Number of people who accept participant totally 3.0 1.17
Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they
need to make 3.0 1.17
Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends,
neighbors, or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring
whether anybody relies on participant to do something for them each day 2.5 1.05
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries 2.5 1.47
Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily
tasks 2.5 1.47
Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared
for 2.5 1.67
Frequency of spouse making too many demands 2 . 0 0.63
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel
relaxed when under pressure 2 . 0 0.75
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
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Table 2 (contd.)
Item Median SD
Frequency of children making too many demands 2 . 0 0.75
Frequency of spouse being critical 2 . 0 0.75
Frequency of children being critical 2 . 0 0.75
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical 2 . 0 0.75
Frequency of helping others with tasks 2 . 0 0.84
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about 2 . 0 0.89
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very
upset 2 . 0 0.89
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands 2 . 0 0.98
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks 2 . 0 1.03
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted 2 . 0 1 . 1
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from
worries 2 . 0 1.17
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better
when feeling down-in-the-dumps 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of spouse giving advice 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of children giving advice 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries 2 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of children listening to participants worries 2 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for 2 . 0 1.38
Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for 2 . 0 1.38
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice 2 . 0 1.51
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
49
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Table 3
Means and Standard Deviations ofJudges Ratings of Items Fit with Perceived
Available Support Category
Item Median SD
Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease* 5.0 .82
Number of close friends* 5.0 .84
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks* 5.0 .84
Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks* 5.0 .84
Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily
tasks* 5.0 .84
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease* 5.0 1 . 2 2
Number of close relatives* 5.0 1 . 6
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help0 4.5 .82
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help0 4.5 .82
Frequency of spouse giving advice* 4.5 .82
Frequency of children giving advice* 4.5 .82
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice* 4.5 .82
Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important
decision to make* 4.5 .98
Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries* 4.5 1.47
Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more
relaxed when under pressure* 4.5 1.47
Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very
upset* 4.5 1.47
Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries* 4.0 .75
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries* 4.0 .75
Frequency of children listening to participants worries* 4.0 .89
Number of people who accept participant totally* 4.0 1.03
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for* 4.0 1.33
Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for* 4.0 1.33
Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared
for* 4.0 1.33
Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her* 4.0 1.37
Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-
the-dumps* 4.0 1.37
Number of friends heard from at least once a month* 3.5 1.17
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted0 3.5 1.26
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month0 3.5 1.37
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about0 3.5 1.47
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
0 Item received higher median rating in another category.
*Item received equal median rating but lower standard deviation in
another category.
50
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Table 3 (contd.)
Item Median SD
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better
when feeling down-in-the-dumps 3.5 1.47
Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most
contact* 3.5 1.47
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from
worries0 3.5 1.63
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel
relaxed when under pressure0 3.5 1.63
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very
upset0 3.5 1.63
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month 3.0 1.26
Frequency of attendance at religious services 3.0 1.72
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership 2.5 1.47
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities 2.5 1 . 8 6
Frequency of spouse making too many demands 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of children making too many demands 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of spouse being critical 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of children being critical 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical 2 . 0 1.17
Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends,
neighbors, or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring
whether anybody relies on participant to do something for them each day 1.5 .82
Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they
need to make 1.5 1 . 6
Frequency of helping others with tasks 1 . 0 .84
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
0 Item received higher median rating in another category.
1Item received equal median rating but lower standard deviation in another category.
51
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Table 4
Means and Standard Deviations ofJudges Ratings of Items Fit with Satisfaction with
Support Category
Item Median SD
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from
worries* 5.0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel
relaxed when under pressure* 5.0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about* 5.0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better
when feeling down-in-the-dumps* 5.0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very
upset* 5.0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted* 5.0 .41
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help 2.5 .98
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help 2.5 .98
Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared
for 2.5 1.38
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help 2 . 0 .89
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease 2 . 0 .89
Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most
contact 2 . 0 .89
Number of friends heard from at least once a month 2 . 0 1 . 1 0
Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries 2 . 0 1.17
Number of people who accept participant totally 2 . 0 1.17
Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her 2 . 0 1.17
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month 2 . 0 1.17
Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more
relaxed when under pressure 2 . 0 1.34
Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-
the-dumps 2 . 0 1.34
Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very
upset 2 . 0 1.34
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for 2 . 0 1.51
Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for 2 . 0 1.51
Number of close friends 1.5 .98
Number of close relatives 1.5 .98
Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important
decision to make 1.5 .98
Frequency of spouse giving advice 1.5 1.26
Frequency of children giving advice 1.5 1.26
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice 1.5 1.26
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
52
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Table 4 (contd.)
Item Median SD
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries 1.5 1.47
Frequency of helping others with tasks 1 . 0 0
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership 1 . 0 .41
Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends,
neighbors, or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring
whether anybody relies on participant to do something for them each day 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities 1 . 0 .52
Frequency of attendance at religious services 1 . 0 .52
Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they
need to make 1 . 0 .52
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month 1 . 0 .84
Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks 1 . 0 1.33
Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of children listening to participants worries 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of spouse making too many demands 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of children making too many demands 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks 1 . 0 1.83
Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily
tasks 1 . 0 1.83
Frequency of spouse being critical 1 . 0 1.83
Frequency of children being critical 1 . 0 1.83
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical 1 . 0 1.83
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
53
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Table 5
Means and Standard Deviations ofJudges Ratings of Items Fit with Providing Support
Category
Item Median SD
Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they
need to make* 5.0 .52
Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends,
neighbors, or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring
whether anybody relies on participant to do something for them each day* 5.0 .82
Frequency of helping others with tasks* 5.0 .84
Frequency of attendance at religious services 3.0 1.03
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities 2.5 1.05
Frequency of spouse making too many demands 2 . 0 .41
Frequency of children making too many demands 2 . 0 .41
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands 2 . 0 .41
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month 2 . 0 .42
Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most
contact 2 . 0 .52
Number of friends heard from at least once a month 2 . 0 .75
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership 2 . 0 1.17
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month 1.5 .55
Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease 1.5 .82
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease 1.5 1.47
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from
worries 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel
relaxed when under pressure 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better
when feeling down-in-the-dumps 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very
upset 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of spouse being critical 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of children being critical 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important
decision to make 1 . 0 .55
Number of people who accept participant totally 1 . 0 .82
Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries 1 . 0 .84
Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more
relaxed when under pressure 1 . 0 .84
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category
54
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Table 5 (contd.)
Item Median SD
Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her
Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-
1 . 0 1.03
the-dumps
Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very
1 . 0 1.03
upset 1 . 0 1.03
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help 1 . 0 1.03
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help 1 . 0 1.03
Number of close friends 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Number of close relatives 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for
Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared
1 . 0 1 . 2 1
for 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks
Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily
1 . 0 1 . 2 1
tasks 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of children listening to participants worries 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of spouse giving advice 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of children giving advice 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
55
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Table 6
Means and Standard Deviations ofJudges Ratings of Items Fit with Negative
Interactions Category
Item Median SD
Frequency of spouse making too many demands* 5.0 .82
Frequency of children making too many demands* 5.0 .82
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands* 5.0 .82
Frequency of spouse being critical* 5.0 .82
Frequency of children being critical* 5.0 .82
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical* 5.0 .82
Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they
need to make 2 . 0 1 . 1 0
Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends,
neighbors, or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring
whether anybody relies on participant to do something for them each day 2 . 0 1.17
Frequency of helping others with tasks 2 . 0 1.33
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities 1.5 .82
Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important
decision to make 1.5 .82
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for 1.5 .82
Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for 1.5 .82
Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared
for 1.5 .82
Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries 1.5 1.17
Frequency of children listening to participants worries 1.5 1.17
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries 1.5 1.17
Frequency of spouse giving advice 1.5 1.47
Frequency of children giving advice 1.5 1.47
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice 1.5 1.47
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from
worries 1 . 0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel
relaxed when under pressure 1 . 0 0
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted 1 . 0 0
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month 1 . 0 0
Number of friends heard from at least once a month 1 . 0 0
Number of close friends 1 . 0 .41
Number of close relatives 1 . 0 .41
Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries 1 . 0 .41
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
56
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Table 6 (contd.)
Item Median SD
Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more
relaxed when under pressure 1 . 0 .41
Number of people who accept participant totally 1 . 0 .41
Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her 1 . 0 .41
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about 1 . 0 .41
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of attendance at religious services 1 . 0 .41
Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease 1 . 0 .41
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease 1 . 0 .41
Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most
contact 1 . 0 .41
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership 1 . 0 .52
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better
when feeling down-in-the-dumps 1 . 0 .84
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very
upset 1 . 0 .84
Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-
the-dumps 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very
upset 1 . 0 1 . 2 1
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help 1 . 0 1 . 2 2
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks 1 . 0 1.55
Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily
tasks 1 . 0 1.55
Note. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale.
* Item was retained in category.
57
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Table 7
Factor Loadings of Items within Social Network Category
Item Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3
Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease .834 .275 .105
Number of friends heard from at least once a month .800 .281 .068
Number of friends whom participant can call on for help .679 .180 .298
Number of close friends .654 .335 .165
Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease .280 .735 .153
Number of close relatives .253 .716 .254
Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help .253 .593 .281
Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month .131 .674 .027
Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a .511 .532 .157
month
Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities .181 .069 .609
Frequency of attendance at religious services -.028 .074 .474
Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group .254 .190 .530
membership
Note. N = 253.
58
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Table 8
Factor Loadings of Items within Perceived Available Support Category
Item Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4
Number of people participant can count on when
feeling generally down-in-the-dumps
.823 .077 .081 .204
Number of people who accept participant totally .822 .050 .074 .097
Number of people participant can count on to care
about him or her
.810 .074 .032 .096
Number of people participant can count on to help
him/her feel more relaxed when under pressure
.781 .064 .066 .280
Number of people participant can count on to
console him/her when very upset
.778 .041 .117 . 2 1 2
Number of people participant can count on to
distract from worries
.751 -.004 .056 .254
Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved
and cared for
.090 .958 .023 -.041
Frequency of spouse listening to participants
worries
.071 .932 .025 .005
Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help
with daily tasks
.036 .916 . 0 2 0 - . 0 2 1
Frequency of spouse giving advice .045 .865 .117 -.051
Frequency of children listening to participants
worries
.027 . 0 1 0 .714 .216
Frequency of children giving advice .028 -.024 .691 .138
Frequency of being able to count on children to
help with daily tasks
.042 .038 .658 .174
Frequency of children making participant feel
loved and cared for
.115 .111 .576 .026
Frequency of friends and relatives listening to
participants worries
.240 -.170 .267 .630
Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice .172 -.119 .248 .583
Frequency of communication with friend with
whom participant has most contact
.160 -.114 -.048 .503
Frequency of friends and relatives making
participant feel loved and cared for
.223 .068 .289 .493
Frequency of having someone to talk to when
participant has an important decision to make
.182 .228 .124 .453
Frequency of being able to count on friends and
relatives for help with daily tasks
. 1 2 1 .086 .378 .445
Note. N = 246.
59
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Table 9
Factor Loadings of Items within Satisfaction with Support Category
Item Factor 1 Factor 2
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being
accepted
.799 .458
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared
about
.791 .498
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being
helped to feel better when feeling down-in-the-dumps
.707 .647
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being
helped to feel relaxed when under pressure
.502 .779
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being
distracted from worries
.430 .748
Satisfaction with availability of support related to being
consoled when very upset
.627 .642
Note. N = 240.
60
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Table 10
Factor Loadings of Items within Negative Interactions Category
Item Factor 1 Factor 2
Frequency of children being critical . 1 0 1 .602
Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands .063 .590
Frequency of children making too many demands .196 .563
Frequency of friends and relatives being critical . 0 0 1 .482
Frequency of spouse making too many demands .812 .107
Frequency of spouse being critical .802 .116
Note. N = 264.
61
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Table 11
Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Social Networks
Parcel 1
1 . Number of relatives with whom participant feels at ease
2 . Number of friends whom participant can call on for help
3. Number of close friends
4. Frequency of participation in group meetings or activities
Parcel 2
1 . Number of relatives seen or heard from at least once a month
2 . Number of friends or relatives seen or talked to at least once a month
3. Number of friends with whom participant feels at ease
4. Frequency of attendance at religious services
Parcel 3
1 . Number of close relatives
2 . Number of relatives whom participant can call on for help
3. Number of friends heard from at least once a month
4. Summary of six dichotomous items assessing group membership
62
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Table 12
Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Perceived Available Support
Parcel 1
1. Number of people participant can count on when feeling generally down-in-the-dumps
2. Frequency of children listening to participants worries
3. Frequency of spouse making participant feel loved and cared for
4. Frequency of communication with friend with whom participant has most contact
5. Frequency of being able to count on friends and relatives for help with daily tasks_____
Parcel 2
1. Number of people participant can count on to care about him or her
2. Number of people participant can count on to distract from worries
3. Frequency of children giving advice
4. Frequency of spouse listening to participants worries
5. Frequency of friends and relatives listening to participants worries________________
Parcel 3
1 .
6 . Number of people who accept participant totally
2. Frequency of being able to count on children to help with daily tasks
3. Frequency of being able to count on spouse to help with daily tasks
4. Frequency of having someone to talk to when participant has an important decision to
make
5. Frequency of friends and relatives giving advice______________________________
Parcel 4
1. Number of people participant can count on to help him/her feel more relaxed when under
pressure
2. Number of people participant can count on to console him/her when very upset
3. Frequency of children making participant feel loved and cared for
4. Frequency of spouse giving advice
5. Frequency of friends and relatives making participant feel loved and cared for________
63
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Table 13
Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Satisfaction with Support
Parcel 1
1 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being accepted
2 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel relaxed when
under pressure
Parcel 2
1 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being cared about
2 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being distracted from worries
Parcel 3
1 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being helped to feel better when feeling
down-in-the-dumps
2 . Satisfaction with availability of support related to being consoled when very upset
64
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Table 14
Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Providing Support
Parcel 1
1. Summary of four dichotomous items assessing frequency of helping friends, neighbors,
or relatives with tasks and one dichotomous item measuring whether anybody relies on
______participant to do something for them each day______________________________
Parcel 2
1. Frequency of others talking to participant about important decisions they need to make
Parcel 3
1. Frequency of helping others with tasks___________________________________
65
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Table 15
Items in Multidimensional Parcels Representing Negative Interactions
Parcel 1
1. Frequency of children making too many demands
2. Frequency of friends and relatives being critical__________
Parcel 2
1. Frequency of children being critical
2. Frequency of spouse making too many demands__________
Parcel 3
1. Frequency of friends and relatives making too many demands
2. Frequency of spouse being critical____________________
66
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Table 16
Model-Fitting Results for Contemporary Social Support Items in Contemporary Sample
Model
x2 df P
AIC NFI TLI RMSEA
Null 2,663.08 1 2 0 0 . 0 0 2,423.08

0.30
1 -factor 1,469.45 104 0 . 0 0 1,261.45 0.45 0.38 0.24
4-factor 363.99 98 0 . 0 0 167.99 0 . 8 6 0.87 0 . 1 1
5-factor 172.43 94 0 . 0 0 -15.57 0.94 0.96 0.06
Note. N = 237
67
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Table 17
Model-Fitting Results for Archival Social Support Items in Archival Sample
Model
..................... T df P
AIC NFI TLI RMSEA
Null 1886.38 153 0 . 0 0 1580.381 0.155
1 -factor 1018.942 135 0 . 0 0 748.942 0.460 0.422 0.118
4-factor 601.052 129 0 . 0 0 343.052 0.681 0.677 0.088
Note. N = 471.
68
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Table 18
Model-Fitting Results for Archival Social Support Items in Contemporary Sample
Model
df P
AIC NFI TLI RMSEA
Null 1319.264 153 0 . 0 0 1013.264

0.171
1 -factor 756.200 135 0 . 0 0 486.200 0.427 0.396 0.133
4-factor 484.751 129 0 . 0 0 226.751 0.633 0.638 0.103
Note. N = 263.
69
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Table 19
Model-Fitting Results for Establishing Measurement Invariance
Model
3C*
df
AIC RMSEA (Cl) Comparison to
Free
Fully free 1069.914 258 553.914 0.087 (0.082, 0.093)
Fully equated 1133.018 300 533.018 0.083 (0.078, 0.088) p = .0192
Error terms and 1116.212 276 564.212 0.086 (0.081,0.092) p =.0003
correlations free
Satisfaction free 1098.398 291 516.398 0.083 (0.077, 0.088) p = .6916
Note. Standardized solution.
70
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Table 20
Correlations among Archival and Contemporary Social Support Items within
Contemporary Sample
Contemporary Items
Archival
Networks Perceived
Available
Providing
Items Networks
5 4 **** 5 3 **** 31****
Perceived Available
4 4 **** 3 4 ****
.26****
Providing
52**** 48****
4 9 ****
Note. N = 269.
0001.
71
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Table 21
Correlations among Archival and Contemporary Social Support Items within
Contemporary Sample, Adjusting for Reliability
Contemporary Items
Archival
Social Network
Size
Perceived
Available
Providing
Support
Items
Social Network Size 0.73
Support
0.72 0.47
Perceived Available 0.71 0.60 0.48
Support
Providing Support 0.65 0.52 0.63
Note. N = 262.
72
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Table 22
Means ofJudges Ratings ofItems in Archival Factors Fit with Factors Resulting from
Factor Analysis of Contemporary Social Support Items
Contemporary Factor
Archival Factor Social Network Size Perceived Available
Support
Providing Support
Social Network Size 2.83 2.13 2.46
Perceived Available 3.97 4.47 1.90
Support
Providing Support 2.47 1.69 4.39
Note. Higher scores indicate higher perceived fit.
73
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Table 23
Proportional Hazards Regressions Predicting Mortality Risk as o f 2005 from Factors of
Social Support
Variable Total Men Women
Social Networks
n 533 283 250
rh 0.94* 0.96 0.94
b -0.06 -0.04 -0.06
x2
4.36 1.03 1.84
P
0.04 0.31 0.17
Perceived Available Support
n 368 185 183
rh 1.00 1.00 1.00
b -0.003 -0.004 -0.0002
x2
0.10 0.16 0.00
P
0.75 0.69 0.98
Providing Support
n 672 357 315
rh 0.99 0.99 0.99
b -0.001 -0.01 -0.01
x2
1.40 0.47 0.45
P
0.24 0.49 0.50
* p < .05.
74
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Table 24
Simultaneous Proportional Hazards Regressions Predicting Mortality Risk as o f 2005
from Factors of Social Support
Variable Total Men Women
Social Networks
n 301 158 143
rh 1.00 1.02 1.01
b 0.001 0.02 0.01
x2
0.00 0.07 0.01
P
0.99 0.79 0.93
Perceived Available Support
n 301 158 143
rh 1.00 1.00 1.00
b -0.0003 -0.001 0.002
x2
0.00 0.00 0.01
P
0.97 0.94 0.91
Providing Support
n 301 158 143
rh 0.94** 0.93* 0.95t
b -0.07 -0.07 -0.06
x2
8.82 5.95 2.79
P
0.003 0.01 0.09
^p < .10. *p < .05. **p < .01.
75
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Social Networks Peraeived Available >atisfactior Negative Interactions Providing Support
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Figure 2. Model estimates for the final 5-factor model of items from contemporary social support scales in
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Figure 3. Model estimates for 4-factor model of archival items in archival sample.
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