Background: Both anxiety disorders and subclinical anxiety symptoms are related to poorer health and functioning in later life. Because worry is an important component of anxiety, the accurate measurement of worry is crucial to studying the etiology, prevention and treatment of anxiety disorders. Assessment of the trait worry has emerged as the most widely used strategy to establish the presence and extent of pathological worry. However, the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ), the most widely used measure of the trait worry, has not been validated cross-culturally in groups outside of the U.S.A.
Methods: We tested the psychometric properties and measurement invariance of an 8 item abbreviated version of the PSWQ (PSWQ-A) in American (N = 206) and Spanish (N = 137) older adult samples.
Results: Internal consistency was high and analyses supported a unidimensional solution in both samples. Measurement invariance was tested using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and Rasch models. Results of the CFA suggest that measurement invariance between the samples can be assumed for women but not for men. Rasch modeling results by gender suggested that three items have different endorsability levels in the two samples, suggesting that certain items may more closely represent the construct of the trait worry in American and Spanish older adults.
Conclusions: Overall, the PSWQ-A appears appropriate for cross-cultural use, although deletion of one item (item 6) may improve the psychometric properties of the scale across different populations.