A study of the dimensionality and measurement precision of the SCL-90-R

Muirne Paap, R.R. Meijer, Jan van Bebber, Geir Pedersen, Sigmund Karterud, Froydis M. Hellem, Ira R. Haraldsen

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We used item response theory (IRT) to (a) investigate the dimensionality of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R) in a severely disturbed patient group, (b) improve the subscales in a meaningful way and (c) investigate the measurement precision of the improved scales. The total sample comprised 3078 patients (72% women, mean age = 35 ± 9) admitted to 14 different day hospitals participating in the Norwegian Network of Personality-focused Treatment Programmes. Mokken Scale Analysis was used to investigate the dimensionality of the SCL-90-R and improve the subscales. This analysis was theory-driven: the scales were built on two start items that reflected the content of the disorder that corresponds with the specific scale. The Graded Response Model was employed to determine measurement precision. Our theory-driven IRT approach resulted in a new seven-factor solution including 60 of the 90 items clustered in seven scales: depression, agoraphobia, physical complaints, obsessive-compulsive, hostility (unchanged), distrust and psychoticism. Most of the new scales discriminated reliably between patients with moderately low scores to moderately high scores. In conclusion, we found support for the multidimensionality of the SCL-90-R in a large sample of severely disturbed patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e39-e55
JournalInternational journal of methods in psychiatric research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • METIS-282222
  • IR-94372

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