Measuring Social Support among Soldiers with the Experienced Post-Deployment Social Support Scale (EPSSS): A Rasch-Based Construct Validity Study
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Perceived social support following deployment is a known buffer against post-deployment adverse mental health outcomes. Given contextual sensitivity of social support measures, scales that address specific social support needs of soldiers in the first months after home coming should be developed and validated. In a sample of 553 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan at two different time points (2009 and 2013, respectively), we selected items for and tested the construct validity of an 8-item measure of experienced post-deployment social support (experienced post-deployment social support scale; EPSSS). Within the item response theory framework, we used Rasch models (RM) to conduct item analysis with an emphasis on testing for differential item functioning (DIF) across background variables such as previous deployments and cohort. In short, we found that the scale did not fit the Rasch model, but with exclusion of two items, a 6-item version of the scale did fit an extended graphical loglinear Rasch model (GLLRM) with only one instance of DIF, for which the score can be adjusted. We also demonstrated that when applied as a scale, the DIF will not affect the results substantially. Hence, we conclude that the constructed 6-item EPSSS can be validly applied without score correction to assess the level of social support in Danish soldiers after home coming.
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|Published - 2021