Quality of Life Concepts

Secondary Health Conditions

Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS)

Description: A measure of the perceived availability of support.

Format: 12 items assessing 3 sources of support: family, friends, and significant other. Items are rated on a 7-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (very strongly disagree) to 7 (very strongly agree).

Scoring: The MSPSS can be scored to measure perceived support from family, friends, and a significant other, or global perceived support.

Administration and Burden: Self-administered.

Psychometrics for SCI: Not available;

For non-SCI populations, internal consistencies of the subscales and total scale are excellent (Cronbach’s alphas= .85 to .91). In addition, the scales have demonstrated strong test-retest reliability over a 2- to 3-month interval (r= .72 to .85). Validity has been established through the negative association of scores on the MSPSS with scores on measures of depression [1].

Languages: English.

QoL Concept: The questionnaire measures social support, which corresponds to Boxes C (achievements) and E (subjective evaluations and reactions) of  Dijker’s Model.

Permissions/Where to Obtain: Public Domain; The MSPSS can be obtained from the IN-CAM Outcomes Database on this page: http://www.outcomesdatabase.org/node/666


1. Zimet GD, Dahlem NW, Zimet SG, Farley GK. The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. J Pers Assess. 1988;52:30–41.


Pain SCI Studies: One cross-sectional survey.

  1. Raichle KA, Hanley M, Jensen MP, Cardenas DD. Cognitions, coping, and social environment predict adjustment to pain in spinal cord injury. J Pain 2007;8:718-29.

Sensitivity to Impact: Raichle and colleagues (2007) used a battery of tests, including the Chronic Pain Grade Scale (CPGS), the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the mental health sub-scale of the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) to study the associations between specific pain-related beliefs, coping, and social support and both mental health a)nd pain interference in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI; N = 157).

They found that perceived social support was associated with better mental health in their sample in both the univariate and multivatriate analyses, which was consistent with past research with persons with SCI and pain [1, 2].  However, perceived social support was associated with pain intereference at only the univariate level, which was inconsistent with previous findings, such as those found by Jensen et al.194 in their study of phatom limb patients.

Suggestions for Use: Given that the MSPSS has not been widely used in the SCI literature, Further research is needed to establish its psychometric properties and clinical utility in the SCI population.

Additional References:

  1. Anson CA, Stanwyck DJ, Krause JS. Social support and health status in spinal cord injury. Int J Paraplegia 1993;31:632-8.

  2. Holicky R, Charlifue S. Ageing with spinal cord injury: The impact of spousal support. Dis Rehabil 1999;21:250-7.

  3. Jensen MP, Ehde DM, Hoffman AJ, Patterson DR, Czierniecki JM, Robinson LR. Cognitions, coping and social environment predict adjustment to phantom limb pain. Pain 2002;95:133-42.

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