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In order to compare estimates by one assessment scale across various cultures/ethnic groups, an important aspect that needs to be demonstrated is that its construct across these groups is invariant when measured using a similar and simultaneous approach (i.e., demonstrated cross-cultural measurement invariance). One of the methods for evaluating measurement invariance is testing for differential item functioning (DIF), which assesses whether different groups respond differently to particular items. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cross-cultural measurement invariance of the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) in societies with different socioeconomic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.
The study was organised by the International Child Mental Health Study Group. Self-reported data were collected from adolescents residing in 11 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Indonesia, Montenegro, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania and Serbia. The multiple-indicators multiple-causes model was used to test the RCADS items for DIF across the countries.
Ten items exhibited DIF considering all cross-country comparisons. Only one or two items were flagged with DIF in the head-to-head comparisons, while there were three to five items flagged with DIF, when one country was compared with the others. Even with all cross-culturally non-invariant items removed from nine language versions tested, the original factor model representing six anxiety and depressive symptoms subscales was not significantly violated.
There is clear evidence that relatively small number of the RCADS items is non-invariant, especially when comparing two different cultural/ethnic groups, which indicates on its sound cross-cultural validity and suitability for cross-cultural comparisons in adolescent anxiety and depressive symptoms.
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