Bergen Social Relationships Scale

There is abundant scientific evidence that the social environment has a powerful influence on health and well-being, but little was known about the specific mechanisms involved. There is a particular need to understand how social strain affects peoples’ functioning in everyday life. The social strain process is defined as one in which perceptions of others’ actions in one’s social network cause the person to experience adverse psychological or physiological reactions. Examples of these actions include excessive demands, criticism, invading privacy, meddling, ineffective or inappropriate support, and social control.

Build upon HUSK data from 1997-99, The Bergen Social Relationships Scale (BSRS) measures the chronic social stress of adolescents and adults in the community setting. The scale contains items that reflect six chronic social stress constructs (i.e., helpless bystander, inept support, performance demand, role conflict, social conflict, and criticism).

The instrument was developed by prof. Maurice Mittelmark and colleagues at the Department of Health Promotion and Development (University of Bergen). The scale has proven to be valuable in assessing chronic social stress in the general population, in addition to vulnerable groups such as the elderly and ill people.

For more details:

Mittelmark, MB (2016) The Bergen Social Relationships Scale (BSRS): A short questionnaire for the measurement of psychosocial stress in epidemiological studies. Bergen Open Research Archive (BORA),

Aanes M, Mittelmark MB, Hetland J. Interpersonal stress and health: The mediating role of loneliness. European Psychologist, 2010, 15(1), 3-11.

Aanes MM, Hetland J, Pallesen S, Mittelmark MB. Does loneliness mediate the stress-sleep quality relation? The Hordaland  Health Study. International Psychogeriatrics, 2011;23(6):994-1002.

Aanes, M, Mittelmark MB, Hetland, J (2009). Interpersonal stress and loneliness in middle adulthood. The impact of social support and positive affect. International Journal of mental Health Promotion, 11(4), 25-33.

Adam S, Cserhati Z, Balog P, Kopp M. Gender differences in the level and prevalence of stress and psycho-social well-being. Mentalhigiene es Pszichoszomatika. 2010;11(4):277-296. (In Hungarian, abstract in English).

Bancila D and Mittelmark MB. The association of interpersonal stress with psychological distress in Romania. European Psychologist. 2006;11(1):39-49.

Bancila D, Mittelmark MB. Measuring interpersonal stress wih the Bergen Social Relationships Scale. European Journal of Psychological Assessment. 2009;25(4):260-265.

Bancila D, Mittelmark MB. Specificity in the relationships between stressors and depressed mood among adolescents: The roles of gender and self-efficacy. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion. 2005;7(2): 4-14.

Carlquist E, Nafstad HE, Blakar RM. Community psychology in a Scandinavian Welfare society: The case of Norway. International Community Psychology. 2007, Part 4, 282-298, DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-49500-2_14. Review of the Bergen Social Relationships Scale.

Charoendee S. The association of chronic social stress with psychological distress in Thailand. Hemil Report 2005(3). University of Bergen, ISBN 13 978-82-7669-106-5.

Henriksen SG. The experience of social strain. Hemil Report 2001(6). University of Bergen, ISBN 82-7669-0882-2.

Konstantinova SV. Chronic social stress and psychological distress in Russia. Hemil Raport 2005(4). University of Bergen, ISBN 13 978-82-769-107-1.

Kopp MS, Thege BK, Balog P, Stauder A, Salavecz G, Roza S, Purebl G, Adam S. Measures of stress in epidemiological research. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2010;69:211-225. Review of the Bergen Social Relationships Scale.

Mittelmark MB, Aarø LE, Henriksen SG, Siqveland J, Torsheim T. Chronic social stress in the community and associations with psychological distress: A social psychological perspective. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 6(1), 2004:4-16.

Mittelmark MB. Social ties and health promotion: suggestions for population-based research. Health Educ Res. 1999 Aug;14(4):447-51.

Susansky E, Susansky A, Szanto Z, Kopp M. Quality of life and lifestyle of people in leading positions. Mentalhigiene es Pszichoszomatika. 2010;11(4):371-389. (In Hungarian, abstract in English).