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posted on 2018-03-15, 04:19 authored by Sheree M. Schrager, Jeremy T. Goldbach, Mary Rose Mamey

Although construct measurement is critical to explanatory research and intervention efforts, rigorous measure development remains a notable challenge. For example, though the primary theoretical model for understanding health disparities among sexual minority (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual) adolescents is minority stress theory, nearly all published studies of this population rely on minority stress measures with poor psychometric properties and development procedures. In response, we developed the Sexual Minority Adolescent Stress Inventory (SMASI) with N = 346 diverse adolescents ages 14–17, using a comprehensive approach to de novo measure development designed to produce a measure with desirable psychometric properties. After exploratory factor analysis on 102 candidate items informed by a modified Delphi process, we applied item response theory techniques to the remaining 72 items. Discrimination and difficulty parameters and item characteristic curves were estimated overall, within each of 12 initially derived factors, and across demographic subgroups. Two items were removed for excessive discrimination and three were removed following reliability analysis. The measure demonstrated configural and scalar invariance for gender and age; a three-item factor was excluded for demonstrating substantial differences by sexual identity and race/ethnicity. The final 64-item measure comprised 11 subscales and demonstrated excellent overall (α = 0.98), subscale (α range 0.75–0.96), and test–retest (scale r > 0.99; subscale r range 0.89–0.99) reliabilities. Subscales represented a mix of proximal and distal stressors, including domains of internalized homonegativity, identity management, intersectionality, and negative expectancies (proximal) and social marginalization, family rejection, homonegative climate, homonegative communication, negative disclosure experiences, religion, and work domains (distal). Thus, the SMASI development process illustrates a method to incorporate information from multiple sources, including item response theory models, to guide item selection in building a psychometrically sound measure. We posit that similar methods can be used to improve construct measurement across all areas of psychological research, particularly in areas where a strong theoretical framework exists but existing measures are limited.