Abstract: Validation of the Six-Item Lubben Social Network Scale With Spanish-Speaking Older Adults in Puerto Rico (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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144P Validation of the Six-Item Lubben Social Network Scale With Spanish-Speaking Older Adults in Puerto Rico

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Tommy Buckley, MSW, Doctoral Student, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Todd Becker, MSW, PhD Student, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Denise Burnette, PhD, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Humberto Fabelo, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA
Background and Purpose

The Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS; Lubben, 1988) was created to examine older adults’ social networks through measures of perceived social support that include size, frequency, and type. The LSNS is commonly used to assess older adults’ risk for social isolation, which has been linked to numerous adverse health and well-being outcomes. The six-item LSNS-6 (Lubben et al., 2006) is a shortened version of the LSNS with items assessing perceived social support from family members and friends.

The LSNS-6 has been widely validated and translated into a myriad of languages (α = .83–.84). Notwithstanding, the LSNS-6 has yet to be validated with Spanish-speaking older adults. Furthermore, it has not been tested with Puerto Rican older adults. The LSNS-6 was translated from English to Spanish, then back-translated using standard protocol. The aim of this study was to validate the factor structure of the LSNS-6 with a sample of Spanish-speaking older adults in Puerto Rico. We hypothesized that the original two-factor structure of family and friends would provide the best model fit.


Survey data were collected in Puerto Rico from September 2019 to January 2019 via face-to-face administration. The sample (N = 154) was recruited through purposive sampling. Age ranged from 60 to 97 (M = 73.77, SD = 8.67). Most participants were not currently married (65.6%), female (61.7%), living alone (54.5%), completed high school (50%), and the median income was $9,552.

The LSNS-6 contains three items referencing family and three referencing friends. Items are assessed on a scale from 0 (none) to 5 (nine or more) social support sources and summed for a composite score, with lower scores indicating weaker social networks (M = 14.00, SD = 5.99, range = 0–30).

A confirmatory factor analysis was performed in R with Lavaan to test two proposed models. The first model considered all six items in a unidimensional factor structure. The second model hypothesized a two-factor structure where the first three items corresponded to participants’ family members and the second three items corresponded to their friends.


Internal consistency showed good reliability for the LSNS-6 (α = .744). Subscale reliability for the family subscale (α = .820) and the friends subscale (α = .672) were good and fair, respectively. Several fit indices were evaluated. Despite the undesired statistical significance of the χ2 goodness-of-fit statistic χ2(8) = 20.093, p = .010, the remaining fit indices either approached or attained favorable psychometric results (SRMR = .051, RMSEA = .099, CFI = .954, TLI = .913).

Conclusions and Implications

Although some fit statistics fell just outside the recommended thresholds, the two-factor model provided a much better overall fit than the unidimensional factor model. Results indicated the LSNS-6 is an acceptable scale to assess Puerto Rican older adults’ social networks and risk for social isolation. Identifying those at risk for social isolation provides opportunity for interventions. Future research should continue to evaluate the factor structure and validity of this scale for use with other Spanish-speaking populations of older adults.