Development of a multidimensional measuring instrument of social support
Oosthuizen, Johan Christiaan
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Social support has been proven to play a major role in the well-being of an individual. Unfortunately, the conceptualisation of the construct is vague and many authors disagree about the various properties and dimensions of the construct. Seen from a health-related perspective, social support can be regarded as divided into two main spectrums, the main-effect model and the stress-buffering model. The main-effect model proposes that social support has a beneficial effect, whether or not an individual is under stress, while the stress-buffering model proposes that social support buffers an individual from potentially pathological influences. The construct is furthermore conceptualised as consisting of distinct structural, functional and perceptual dimensions. The aim of the research was to develop an instrument which would incorporate all three of these dimensions and could be proven valid and statistically reliable. A cross-sectional survey design was used. An availability sample of qualified educators in the North-West Province of South Africa was used. The Social Support Survey was developed as a measuring instrument and administered along with a biographical questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. Contrary to expectation, factor analysis indicated that the four factors regarding the characteristics of the support, as well as the five factors regarding the types of support, were clustered around the source of support. This might be due to the Likert-scale matrix design of the questionnaire, which required participants to answer a wide range of questions regarding the type, importance, amount, adequacy and accessibility of support. By way of conclusion, recommendations were made.