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Open Access Research article

Validation of the multi-dimensional scale of perceived social support (MSPSS) and the relationship between social support, intimate partner violence and antenatal depression in Malawi

Robert C Stewart12*, Eric Umar3, Barbara Tomenson4 and Francis Creed1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK

2 Department of Mental Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi

3 Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Malawi, Blantyre, Malawi

4 Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK

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BMC Psychiatry 2014, 14:180  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-14-180

Published: 17 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Lack of social support is an important risk factor for antenatal depression and anxiety in low- and middle-income countries. We translated, adapted and validated the Multi-dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) in order to study the relationship between perceived social support, intimate partner violence and antenatal depression in Malawi.

Methods

The MSPSS was translated and adapted into Chichewa and Chiyao. Five hundred and eighty-three women attending an antenatal clinic were administered the MSPSS, depression screening measures, and a risk factor questionnaire including questions about intimate partner violence. A sub-sample of participants (n = 196) were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV to diagnose major depressive episode. Validity of the MSPSS was evaluated by assessment of internal consistency, factor structure, and correlation with Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ) score and major depressive episode. We investigated associations between perception of support from different sources (significant other, family, and friends) and major depressive episode, and whether intimate partner violence was a moderator of these associations.

Results

In both Chichewa and Chiyao, the MSPSS had high internal consistency for the full scale and significant other, family, and friends subscales. MSPSS full scale and subscale scores were inversely associated with SRQ score and major depression diagnosis. Using principal components analysis, the MSPSS had the expected 3-factor structure in analysis of the whole sample. On confirmatory factor analysis, goodness–of-fit indices were better for a 3-factor model than for a 2-factor model, and met standard criteria when correlation between items was allowed. Lack of support from a significant other was the only MSPSS subscale that showed a significant association with depression on multivariate analysis, and this association was moderated by experience of intimate partner violence.

Conclusions

The MSPSS is a valid measure of perceived social support in Malawi. Lack of support by a significant other is associated with depression in pregnant women who have experienced intimate partner violence in this setting.

Keywords:
Social support; MSPSS; Antenatal; Depression; Africa