Support Assessments

The inverse relationship between support and caregiver burden is well established.  Specifically, greater support reduces the amount of caregiver burden (Bass et al., 1988; Goodman, 1991; Krause & Markides, 1990). It is also important to note, however, that there are different types of support.  In a review of literature on support and caregiver burden, Vrabec (1997) identified three dimensions of support; structural; functional; and nature. Structural support is defined as the amount and composition of support available to the caregiver (Coward et al., 1990).  Functional support is the type (i.e., emotional, informational, instrumental) of support available or received (Thompson et al., 1993).  Finally, the nature of support describes caregiver satisfaction with care, the degree of reciprocity, and whether the relationship is positive or negative (Stewart, 1993). Each type of support is distinct.  Therefore, when selecting an instrument, it is important to understand what type of support is captured with the instrument, and how the information will assist in the caregiver assessment process.

Assistance with Caregiving

  • Measures assistance with caregiving (yes/no scale).
  • 2 items (2-point scale)
  • Braithwaite, V. (1996). Understanding stress in informal caregiving: Is burden a problem of the individual or of society? Research on Aging, 18, 139-174.

Helping Network Composition

  • Measures the presence and helpfulness of 4 types of informal helpers and 4 types of formal helpers.
  • 16 items (3-point scale)
  • Bass, D. M., & Bowman, K. (1990). The transition from caregiving to bereavement: The relationship of care-related strain and adjustment to death. The Gerontologist, 31, 32-42.

Negative Service Attitudes and Experiences

  • Measures negative attitudes toward formal services related to the inadequacy of services, as well as the respondent’s perceptions that someone in the family has avoided using services because they are in denial about the relative’s illness.
  • 6 items (4-point scale)
  • Bass, D. M., McClendon, M. J., Deimling, G. T., & Mukherjee, S. (1994). The influence of a diagnosed mental impairment on family caregiver strain. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 49, S146-S155.

Perceived Emotional Support Scale

  • Measures the level of perceived expressive support.
  • 8 items (4-point scale)
  • Pearlin, L. I., Mullan, J. T., Semple, S. J., & Skaff, M. M. (1990). Caregiving and the stress process: An overview of concepts and their measures. The Gerontologist, 30(5), 583-594.

Perceived Social Support for Caregiving

  • Measures aspects of self-help support, information exchange, and social support.
  • 9 items (5-point scale)
  • Goodman, C. C. (1991). Perceived social support for caregiving: Measuring the benefit of self-help/support group participation. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 16, 163-175.

Service Use: Formal and Informal

  • Measures 13 different kinds of help that the caregiver and care recipient may have received over the past 3 months and whether or not they were satisfied with the services.  There are also questions asking whether or not they could have used more assistance, if they are aware of the availability of paid assistance, and i they would consider using this type of paid assistance.
  • 6 items (2-3 point scales)
  • Feinberg, L. F., Whitlatch, C. J., & Tucke, S. (2000). Final Report: Making choices: Respecting both voices. San Francisco, CA: Family Caregiver Alliance.

Social Conflict

  • Measures negative aspects of supportive relationships with 3 items.
  • 3 items (5-point scale)
  • Goodman, C. C. (1991). Perceived social support for caregiving: Measuring the benefit of self-help/support group participation. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 16, 163-175.

Social Support Measure

  • Measures the amount of information, tangible, and emotional support given and received, the perceived need for support, and the degree of satisfaction with the support. Tool not designed specifically for caregivers.
  • 44 items (4-point scale)
  • Krause, N., & Markides, K. (1990). Measuring social support among older adults. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 30, 37-53.

Socioemotional Support

  • Measures the degree of help and support the caregiver receives from friends and relatives.
  • 8 items (4-point scale)
  • Pearlin, L. I., Mullan, J. T., Semple, S. J., & Skaff, M. M. (1990). Caregiving and the stress process: An overview of concepts and their measures. The Gerontologist, 30(5), 583-594.

Social Isolation

  • Measures whether caregiving increased, decreased, or had no effect of caregivers’ participation in various social activities.
  • 5 items (3-point scale)
  • Deimling, G. T., & Bass, D. M. (1986). The strengths and resources of families caring for impaired elders: Report to The Retirement Research Foundation: The Benjamin Rose Institute.
  • Deimling, G. T., & Bass, D. M. (1986). Symptoms of mental impairment among elderly adults and their effects on family caregivers. Journal of Gerontology, 41, 778-784.

Visual Analogue Scale

  • Measures caregiver perceptions of the amount of support they believe they ‘should’ and ‘could’ provide to care recipients.
  • 3 items (visual continuum)
  • Wolfson, C., Handfield-Jones, R., Glass, K. C., McClaran, J., & Keyserlingk, E. (1993). Adult children’s perceptions of their responsibility to provide care for dependent elderly parents. The Gerontologist, 33, 315-323.

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