To our knowledge, the available psychometric literature does not include an instrument for the quantification of social quality of life among older women from diverse ethnic backgrounds. To address the need for a tool of this kind, we conducted two studies to assess the initial reliability and validity of a new instrument. The latter was created specifically to quantify the contribution of a) social networks and resources (e.g., family, friends, and community) as well as b) one's perceived power and respect within family and community to subjective well-being in non-clinical, ethnically diverse populations of older women.
In Study 1, we recruited a cross-sectional sample of primarily non-European-American older women (N = 220) at a variety of community locations. Participants were administered the following: a short screener for dementia; a demographic list; an initial pool of 50 items from which the final items of the new Older Women's Social Quality of Life Inventory (OWSQLI) were to be chosen (based on a statistical criterion to apply to the factor analysis findings); the Single Item Measure of Social Support (SIMSS); and the Medical Outcome Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (MOS SF-36). Study 2 was conducted on a second independent sample of ethnically diverse older women. The same recruitment strategies, procedures, and instruments as those of Study 1 were utilized in Study 2, whose sample was comprised of 241 older women with mostly non-European-American ethnic status.
In Study 1, exploratory factor analysis of the OWSQLI obtained robust findings: the total variance explained by one single factor with the final selection of 22 items was over 44%. The OWSQLI demonstrated strong internal consistency (α = .92, p < .001), adequate criterion validity with the SIMSS (r = .33; p < .01), and (as expected) moderate concurrent validity with the MOS SF-36 for both physical (r = .21; p < .01) and mental (r = .26; p < .01) quality of life. In order to confirm the validity of the 22-item OWSQLI scale that emerged from Study 1 analyses, we replicated those analyses in Study 2, although using confirmatory factor analysis. The total variance accounted for by one factor was about 42%, again quite high and indicative of a strong single-factor solution. Study 2 data analyses yielded the same strong reliability findings (i.e., α = .92, p < .001). The 22-item OWSQLI was correlated with the SIMSS (r = .27, p < .001) in the expected direction. Finally, correlations with the MOS SF- 36 demonstrated moderate concurrent validity for physical (r = .14; p < .01) and mental (r = .18; p < .01) quality of life, as expected.
The findings of these two studies highlight the potential for our new tool to provide a valid measure of older women's social quality of life, yet they require duplication in longitudinal research. Interested clinicians should consider using the OWSQLI in their assessment battery to identify older women's areas of lower versus higher social quality of life, and should establish the maximization of patients' social quality of life as an important therapeutic goal, as this variable is significantly related to both physical and mental health.