, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 137-147

Confirmatory factor analysis of the interpersonal support evaluation list

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Summary and Conclusions

Cohen and Syme (1985) suggested that the most methodologically sound way of assessing the stress-buffering properties of different functional support dimensions is through the introduction of experimental manipulations designed to elicit needs for specific support resources, and we agree. Of course, such tests are feasible only to the extent that it is possible to separate the support dimensions empirically. The results reported here indicate that despite considerable covariation among the latent variables corresponding to the four ISEL subscales, covariation that most likely represents the influence of a general second-order support factor, there is also evidence that the four subscales provide sufficient unique information to warrant their retention in the ISEL.

From a practical standpoint, this means that researchers using the college version of the ISEL should follow Cohen and Hoberman's (1983) precedent of analyzing both individual subscale scoresand the total support score. In the meantime, improvements in the distributional properties of the individual ISEL items, perhaps through the four-point item response format adopted recently by Cohen and his colleagues, should lead to more refined measurement of the functional support dimensions represented in the ISEL subscales and, subsequently, to more sensitive analyses of the stress-buffering mechanisms associated with different support resources.