Satisfaction with social support (pain-relevant social support) may influence pain experience and behaviour in patients with chronic pain. Prior studies on measurement of social support, however, have been limited by the use of general, rather than of pain-specific assessment instruments. In this study, a new pain-relevant social support instrument, the Social support and Pain Questionnaire (SPQ), is presented together with an evaluation of its psychometric properties. A literature search was performed to establish different aspects of social support. For each of the six aspects found, one item was selected for inclusion in the new questionnaire. The draft version of the questionnaire was field tested. Thereafter, the psychometric properties of the SPQ were assessed in 250 patients with oro-facial pain. Principal component analysis (n=250) showed that the SPQ had a one-factor structure. The test-retest reliability of the SPQ (in a subsample of 54 patients) was fair-to-good (R=0·70; P<0·000). Convergent validity, as compared with a non-specific social support instrument, was good (n=140; R=0·54; P<0·000). The SPQ is a valid and reliable instrument, which offers the possibility to explore the patient's satisfaction with pain-related social support. With the SPQ, a useful tool to assess the influence of social support in patients with various types of pain is provided.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.