Objective: To develop and evaluate the Diabetes Social Support Questionnaire-Family Version (DSSQ-Family) for adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
Methods: Normative and individualized approaches to scoring were examined. Also examined were associations between diabetes-specific family support and adolescents' age, disease duration, gender, emotional support from family and friends, and treatment adherence. The most supportive family behaviors were identified as well. Adolescents (n = 74) rated 58 DSSQ-Family behaviors on their supportiveness and frequency and completed measures of emotional support from family and friends and treatment adherence. After eliminating nonsupportive items, the Total DSSQ-Family and five areas of diabetes care (insulin, blood testing, meals, exercise, emotions) were scored for frequency (normative approach) and frequency x support (individualized approach). The upper quartile of the DSSQ-Family items was identified as most supportive.
Results: Scores from the DSSQ-Family had high internal consistency. Higher frequency and individualized ratings were related to younger adolescent age and to more family emotional support and cohesion, but not to friend support or family conflict (in general). The individualized ratings were significant predictors of adolescents' adherence, even when controlling for age and general levels of family support. The most supportive family behaviors reflected emotional support for diabetes.
Conclusions: The DSSQ-Family is a useful clinical and research tool for measuring adolescents' perceptions of diabetes-specific family support. Future interventions should stress family support for management tasks, taking into account the adolescent's perceptions of supportive behaviors. Additional research is needed with culturally diverse adolescents and with other chronic pediatric conditions.