The MSSS is a slightly modified version of the Social Support Survey developed as part of the Medical Outcomes Study in order to assess perceived social support. (Sherbourne and Stewart, 1991) This instrument provides an assessment of several domains of social support including tangible support, emotional support, affective support, and positive support. The full-length MSSS consists of 18 items while the abbreviated version has 5 items. The abbreviated version can be used if time is limited but the full-length version has the advantage of generating subscales. The MSSS is one of the components of the MSQLI
and was modified slightly for use with MS patients following field-testing and psychometric analysis.
Administration time is approximately 5-10 minutes for the full-length version and 2-3 minutes for the abbreviated version.
The MSSS is a structured, self-report questionnaire that the patient can generally complete with little or no intervention from an interviewer. However, patients with visual or upper extremity impairments may need to have the MSSS administered as an interview. Interviewers should be trained in basic interviewing skills and in the use of this instrument.
The scoring system for the MSSS is relatively complex and generates a total score as well as subscale scores for tangible support, emotional/informational support, affectionate support, and positive social interaction.
Download the MSQLI: A User’s Manual (PDF)
The MSSS is easy to administer and provides a multifaceted assessment of perceived social support. The availability of the four subscales, tangible support, emotional/informational support, affectionate support, and positive social interaction, may be useful to investigators interested in testing hypotheses concerning these different sub-domains. However, the four subscales are highly correlated with one another, limiting their usefulness to some degree.
The full-length version of the MSSS has a Cronbach's alpha of .97 while the short form has an alpha of .88. In the field testing for the MSQLI the MSSS showed good convergent and discriminant validity, correlating highly with a measure of loneliness/companionship but poorly with measures such as bladder control and visual impairment.