Background: Despite strong recommendations to involve family social support in hypertension control, few questionnaires have been designed to measure family support in Chinese patients. The Chinese Family Support Scale is a self-rated questionnaire that assesses family support over a 6-month period. Methods: A total of 282 patients with hypertension participated in this study and 136 of them completed the questionnaire twice within an interval of two to three weeks. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to assess the structural validity of the scale. Concurrent validity was determined by measuring the correlation between the Chinese Family Support Scale, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale using the Sperman's Correlation Coefficient. Cronbach's alpha and intraclass correlation coefficients were employed to evaluate the internal and test-retest reliability of the scale. Results: Exploratory factor analysis revealed a three-factor solution accounting for 62% of the total variance. The three underlying sub-scale dimensions were kinship, nuclear family, and social resources. Significant correlation (r=-0.266; p<0.01) was found between the depression subscales of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the extent of support perceived by the patients as measured by the Chinese Family Support Scale. The Chinese Family Support Scale had an acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.84) and test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.82). Conclusion: The study provides preliminary evidence that the12-item Chinese Family Support Scale is acceptable, valid and reliable for measuring the perceived family support in hypertension patients. It is a promising tool which can be easily incorporated into epidemiological surveys.
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