Abstract: Measuring Military and Veteran Spouse Self-Care Practices: Developing the Brief Military and Veteran Spouse Self Care Inventory (MVSSCI) (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

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376P Measuring Military and Veteran Spouse Self-Care Practices: Developing the Brief Military and Veteran Spouse Self Care Inventory (MVSSCI)

Friday, January 12, 2024
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jean Hare, PhD, LCSW, BCD, Research Associate, University of Texas at Austin, Colorado Springs, CO
Elisa Borah, PhD, Research Associate Professor; Director, University of Texas at Austin, Institute for Military and Veteran Family Wellness, Austin, TX
Karie Hare, MPH, research associate, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, houston, TX
Background and Purpose:

Military spouses and partners face significant stressors as they often shoulder disproportionate family and household responsibilities during their spouses’ military service careers. Spouses of veterans with health concerns often serve as caregivers which may lead them to focus less on their own health and well-being. This role has been shown to contribute to their own reduced health. Self-care behaviors have been shown to lead to improved health outcomes and the use of health and social care services (Lucock et al., 2011). A central tenet of the Veteran Spouse Resiliency Group peer support program is the need to encourage participants’ self-care through discussions about self-care practices and ways to implement them in spouses’ demanding lives. To understand whether participants’ self-care practices had increased, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Self Care Inventory (SCI) was used to assess practices before and after the 12-week program. Based on feedback from participants that the measure was overly long, this study’s objective was to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to investigate the factorial structure of the 69-item SCI to potentially identify a shorter version for use by the program as well as by other support programs and/or mental health providers working with military spouses.

Methods: Spouses of active duty and veteran service members completed the SCI (n = 227). Data was collected from respondents recruited through the VSRG program as part of the program evaluation and through a survey of military spouses on Facebook. A CFA was performed on the full 69-item SCI, removing indicators that did not contribute to the model.

Results: The CFA revealed a five-factor solution with 15 indicators that fit the data better than the full measure. Although the final model was significant [χ2 (80) = 127.42, PCMIN/DF = 1.6; p < .05] other fit indices adjusting for sample size indicated good fit (RMESA = .05; CFI = .97; TLI = .96). The resulting 15-item BMSSCI had a median of 43 and a range of 16 - 60 (possible range 15 – 60). Cronbach’s alpha was .91 (95% CI 0.89 – 0.92) demonstrating good internal reliability. Criterion validity with the 69-item SCI was r = 0.95. Discriminant validity was demonstrated by relatively weak correlations with depression, anxiety, and social support measures (r = -.34 – .33), and concurrent validity was indicated by strong correlations with perceived quality of life (r = .60).

Conclusions and Implications: Findings indicate that the BMSSCI is a valid and reliable measure of self-care practices among military and veteran spouses. This brief measure offers a practical approach for determining the extent of self-care that a client practices and potentially increases respondent completion of the measure due to its shortened form. Assessing for self-care practices among military spouses is an important aspect of delivering supportive programming that can help ease the stressors present in military and veteran spouses’ lives.