Validity of Social Support Scales Utilized Among HIV-Infected and HIV-Affected Populations: A Systematic Review

AIDS Behav. 2019 Aug;23(8):2155-2175. doi: 10.1007/s10461-018-2294-z.


Social support enhances self-management and prevention of behaviors and is typically assessed using self-report scales; however, little is known about the validity of these scales in HIV-infected or affected populations. This systematic review aims to identify available validated social support scales used in HIV-infected and HIV-affected populations. A systematic literature search using key search terms was conducted in electronic databases. After rounds abstract screenings, full-text reviews, and data abstraction 17 studies remained, two of which assessed multiple social support scales, which increased number of scales to 19. Most scales assessed positive social support behaviors (n = 18). Most scales assessed perceived social support (n = 14) compared to received social support. Reliability ranged from 0.67 to 0.97. The most common forms of validation reported were content validity and construct validity and the least was criterion-related validity. Future research should seek to build evidence for validation for existing scales used in HIV-infected or HIV-affected populations.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Measurement; Reliability; Social support; Validation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report
  • Social Support*