Abstract: Validation of a Multidimensional Social Support Measure for Individuals Who Are Incarcerated (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Validation of a Multidimensional Social Support Measure for Individuals Who Are Incarcerated

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Encanto B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth Curley, MSW, Doctoral Student, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Christopher Veeh, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Tanya Renn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Florida State Univeristy, Tallahassee, FL
Carrie Pettus, PhD, Associate Professor, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Michael Killian, PhD, Associate Professor, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Background and Purpose: Over 1.4 million people are incarcerated in prisons in the United States. Increased social support for these individuals is associated with positive outcomes such as reduced mental health symptomology. Various social support measures are used in correctional settings, yet few have been validated for use with this population. It is necessary to establish validated population-specific measures since social support looks differently for incarcerated individuals compared to the general population. Many current conceptualizations of social support dichotomize support as either positive or negative which directly impacts recommendations for incarcerated individuals' social networks. This study seeks to validate the Network Composition Survey (NCS), an egocentric social support measure that integrates existing research measures of social support used previously on individuals with a history of a substance use disorder or homelessness. The NCS was developed to reflect a multidimensional conceptualization of social support to better reflect the lived experience of social support by individuals who are incarcerated. This validation study aims to establish the psychometric properties of the NCS and support its further use in correctional research.
Methods: Participants were 1539 individuals recruited in 50 prisons across four states to participate in the pilot trial of a prison reentry program. The NCS was administered at the baseline interview while the individuals were incarcerated. The NCS includes 40 items regarding informational, instrumental, and emotional support, which capture quality, quantity, and whether the support person was a positive or negative influence. Exploratory factor analyses (EFA) and confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were conducted using Mplus 8. EFA using the first support person data identified a factor structure for the NCS, and CFA then confirmed that factor structure using the second and third support person data. The WLSMV estimator was used in all modeling. Model fit was defined as RMSEA below .10 and CFI as well as TLI above .90.
Results: EFA results with the first support person found a three-factor model that included 23 items. The three-factor model demonstrated good model fit in CFA with both the second support person (χ2(227) = 855.017, p < 0.001; RMSEA = .051[.047, .054]; CFI = 0.967, TLI = 0.963) and the third support person (χ2(227) = 772.253, p < 0.001; RMSEA = .058 [.054, .063]; CFI = 0.956, TLI = 0.951).
Conclusions and Implications: The model confirmed two of the three expected typologies (informational and emotional support). The third factor that emerged was the companionship factor, capturing feelings of unconditional affection, closeness, and understanding between individuals. An unexpected finding was a negative association between informational and emotional support, suggesting that figures who provide helpful advice may differ from those who offer helpful emotional support to incarcerated individuals. These results suggest that the NCS has the potential to better reflect the complexities of interpersonal dynamics between social support figures and incarcerated individuals. This measure advances our understanding of this multidimensional construct which provides practical utility in assessing and providing interventions related to social support to a population for which it is invaluable.