We aimed to investigate whether the 12-item Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) constitutes a valid and reliable measure of social support for the general adult Australian population.
Data were from Australia’s National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004–2006 and included 3899 participants aged 18 years old and over. The psychometric properties were evaluated with Bayesian confirmatory factor analysis. One-, two-, and three-factor (Significant Other, Family and Friends) structures were tested. Model fit was assessed with the posterior predictive p-value (PPPχ2), Bayesian root mean square error of approximation (BRMSEA), and Bayesian comparative fit index (BCFI). Dimensionality was tested by comparing competing factorial structures with the Bayes factor (BF). Reliability was evaluated with the Bayesian ΩH. Convergent validity was investigated with the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and discriminant validity with the Perceived Dental Control scale (PDC-3).
The theoretical three-factor model (Significant Other, Family, and Friends) provided a good fit to the data [PPPχ2 < 0.001, BRMSEA = 0.089-95% credible interval (CrI) (0.088, 0.089); BCFI = 0.963-95% CrI (0.963, 0.964)]. The BF provided decisive support for the three-factor structure in relation to the other structures. The SO [BΩH = 0.95 – 95% CrI (0.90, 0.99)], FA (BΩH = 0.92 – 95% CrI (0.87, 0.97), and FR (BΩH = 0.92 – 95% CrI (0.88, 0.97)] subscales displayed excellent reliability. The MSPSS displayed initial evidence of convergent and discriminant validity.
The MSPSS demonstrated good psychometric properties and excellent reliability in a large Australian sample. This instrument can be applied in national surveys and provide evidence of the role of social support in the Australian population.