Measurement invariance of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire across gender and race/ethnicity: Applications of structural equation modeling and item response theory
Research has established associations between child maltreatment and a wide range of deleterious psychological sequelae for both women and men across racial/ethnic groups. This research, however, tends to be marked by methodological pitfalls, one of which has been the use of non-standardized retrospective measurement instruments that have not been subjected to rigorous validation procedures. The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ-SF; Bernstein & Fink, 1998) was developed to provide a quick, multidimensional, retrospective measure of childhood trauma with sound reliability and validity characteristics. It consists of 25 items, five items each on five abuse and neglect subscales—Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Physical Neglect, and Emotional Neglect. The CTQ has been found to demonstrate good reliability and convergent and discriminant validity. The measurement invariance of the CTQ-SF across gender and racial/ethnic groups, however, has not been systematically investigated. While not often done in practice, the evaluation of measurement invariance should ideally involve multiple complementary strategies to investigate different levels of invariance. This study demonstrated an innovative approach to demonstrate measurement invariance. Applications of structural equation modeling (SEM) and item response theory (IRT) were applied complementarily to assess the measurement invariance of the CTQ-SF across groups defined by gender and race/ethnicity. Data were derived from a community study related to the prevention of AIDS that was carried out in San Antonio, Texas with intravenous and crack cocaine drug abusers. Samples of female (n = 349) and male (n = 344) and African American (n = 215) and Hispanic (n = 381) participants were compared. Evidence was found for the partial invariance of the CTQ across these groups. Analyses with SEM showed that overall the five-factor model of the CTQ provided a reasonably good fit across groups for both gender and race/ethnicity. SEM analyses of item intercepts and IRT differential item functioning analyses, however, revealed that the CTQ was not fully equivalent on an item-by-item basis in that three items functioned differently across gender and one item across race/ethnicity. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed. The convergence of results across models supports the utility of this approach and provides strong evidence for the measurement properties of the CTQ across gender and race/ethnicity.
Thombs, Brett D, "Measurement invariance of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire across gender and race/ethnicity: Applications of structural equation modeling and item response theory" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3140904.