Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Social Support Survey

The Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Social Support Survey is a 20-item self-reported measure of individual experience of social support with four subscale measures of emotional/informational support, tangible support, affection, and positive interaction. This survey-based scale measures participation in social activities, having someone to help with physical needs, and experiencing affection, companionship and assistance.


Geographies Tested: United States of America

Populations Included: Female, Male

Age Range: Adolescents, Adults


Next are some questions about the support that is available to you.

1. About how many close friends and close relatives do you have (people you feel at ease with and can talk to about what is on your mind)?

Response Options:
Write in number of close friends and close relatives.

People sometimes look to others for companionship, assistance, or other types of support. How often is each of the following kinds of support available to YOU if you need it?

2. Someone to help you if you were confined to bed (T)
3. Someone you can count on to listen to you when you need to talk (E)
4. Someone to give you good advice about a crisis (E)
5. Someone to take you to the doctor if you needed it (T)
6. Someone who shows you love and affection (A)
7. Someone to have a good time with (P)
8. Someone to give you information to help you understand a situation (E)
9. Someone to confide in or talk to about yourself or your problems (E)
10. Someone who hugs you (A)
11. Someone to get together with for relaxation. (P)
12. Someone to prepare your meals if you were unable to do it yourself (T)
13. Someone whose advice you really want. (E)
14. Someone to do things with to help you get your mind off things
15. Someone to help with daily chores if you were sick (T)
16. Someone to share your most private worries and fears with (E)
17. Someone to turn to for suggestions about how to deal with a personal problem (E)
18. Someone to do something enjoyable with (P)
19. Someone who understands your problems (E)
20. Someone to love and make you feel wanted (A)

Items pertaining to subscale measures are denoted as follows: emotionalinformational support (E), tangible support (T), affection (A), and positive interaction (P).

Response Options:
None - 1
A little of the time - 2
Some of the time - 3
Most of the time - 4
All of the time - 5

Scoring Procedures

An overall social support score can be generated by averaging item responses (items 2-20) and then transforming values such that the lowest possible score is “0” and the highest possible score is “100”. High scores reflect individuals who have more types of social support available to them, with great frequency, if needed. Items also can be combined to reflect the following four subscale measures of social support: emotional/information support (“E”), tangible support (“T”), affection (“A”), and positive interaction (“P”).

Original Citation

Sherbourne, C. D., & Stewart, A. L. (1991). The MOS social support survey. Social science & medicine, 32(6), 705-714.

Psychometric Score

Ease of Use Score

Scoring breakdown

Formative Research

Qualitative Research

Existing Literature/Theoretical Framework

Field Expert Input

Cognitive Interviews / Pilot Testing








Criterion (gold-standard)



Ease of Use


Scoring Clarity


Join the EMERGE Community

to get the latest updates on new measures and guidance for survey researchers