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A hierarchy of distress: Mokken scaling of the GHQ-30

Watson, R., Deary, I.J. and Shipley, B. (2008) A hierarchy of distress: Mokken scaling of the GHQ-30. Psychological Medicine, 38 (4). pp. 575-579. ISSN 0033-2917

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Background. Hierarchical Cumulative scales are common and informative in psychology. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) does not appear to have been subjected to an analysis that examines the hierarchical and cumulative nature of its items. We report an analysis of data from the 30-item GHQ (GHQ-30) as part of the Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS).

Method. Data from 6317 participants who completed the GHQ-30 as part of the HALS were analysed using the Mokken Scaling Procedure (MSP), which is a computer program that searches polychotomous data for hierarchical and cumulative scales on the basis of a range of diagnostic criteria.

Results. A final scale consisting of nine items from the GHQ-30 was obtained that, according to the criteria for a Mokken scale, was a reliable and very strong scale. The least difficult item in the scale is 'been (un)able to face up to your problerns?' and the most difficult item is 'felt that life isn't worth living?'

Conclusions. Items from the GHQ-30 form a short hierarchical and cumulative scale. The majority of these items also appear in the GHQ-12. The nine-item GHQ shows better distribution properties than the GHQ-30 and compares very favourably with the GHQ-12.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: general health; item response theory; Mokken scaling
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health (Sheffield) > School of Nursing and Midwifery (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss Anthea Tucker
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2010 11:49
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2010 16:09
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S003329170800281X
Status: Published
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Identification Number: 10.1017/S003329170800281X
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10396

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