Saturday, 15 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session II
Support for the Validity and Reliability of the Ecomap as a Social Work Tool for Measuring Social SupportAlexandra R. Calix, MSW, Louisiana State University, Daphne S. Cain, Ph.D., Louisiana State University, and Julie Schroeder, PhD, Louisiana State University.
Abstract Purpose The ecomap is a tool used in social work practice to measure social support (Hartman, 1995). This study aims to quantify the ecomap, explore its psychometric soundness, and begin the process of validation using two empirically validated social support measurement tools: the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988) and the Young Adult Social Support Inventory (YA-SSI) (McCubbin & Thompson, 1991). These efforts are expected to contribute to evidence-based practice in social work.
Methods A nonrandom convenience sampling design was used to explore the validity and reliability of the ecomap. A sample of 100 graduate students in a Masterís of Social Work program participated. Standardized instructions were given, and the ecomap, MSPSS, and YA-SSI were administered in a group-testing format. The ecomap was quantified using a connectedness variable that measured the strong, stressful, or weak/poor connections among people depicted in the ecomap, as well as a people variable that measured the number of people depicted in the ecomap. The current quantification procedure is very straightforward and can be reasonably expected to be achieved by other practitioners. For the purpose of test-retest reliability, data was collected at two times. The criterion related validity of the ecomap was assessed using concurrent validity with the MSPSS and YA-SSI, and reliability was assessed using Cronbachís alpha. Rates of social support were compared to determine whether the rates indicated by the ecomap positively correlated with rates indicated by the MSPSS and YA-SSI, thus providing evidence of the ecomapís validity as a measure of social support.
Results Of the 100 participants at recruitment, 87 participated in the retest. Binary logistic regression revealed that white participants were .84 times more likely to participate in the retest. There was no significant difference between responders and non-responders in gender and age. Rates of social support indicated by measurement of the ecomap positively correlated with rates of social support indicated by measurement of the YA-SSI at both recruitment (r = .33, p = .01) and retest (r = .38, p = .01). After removing seven outliers from the MSPSS analyses, a significant relationship emerged between the MSPSS retest and the ecomap at recruitment (r = .23, p = .05) and retest (r = .26, p = .05). These results provide preliminary evidence for the ecomapís validity as a measure of social support. Test-retest reliability revealed strong test-retest data for the YA-SSI (alpha = .93) and the MSPSS (alpha = .91). A test of the ecomapís reliability revealed the ecomap to be a reliable measure in this study (alpha = .88).
Implications for Practice Theses findings are important for evidence-based social work practice, in which the focus is on the use of empirically sound measures to direct practice. Social work practitioners must protect their clients by choosing assessment tools that have empirically verified utility. In choosing tools that have demonstrated utility, social workers contribute to the effort of placing social work in the mainstream of scientifically oriented professions.
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