Rasch analysis of the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 with African American and White students.

Although the United States offers some of the most advanced psychological services in the world, not everyone in the country shares these services equally, resulting in health disparities. Health disparities persist when assessments do not appropriately measure different populations’ mental health problems. To address this assessment issue, we conducted principal axis factoring, confirmatory factor analysis, and Rasch analyses to assess the psychometric characteristics of the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18) to evaluate whether the BSI is culturally appropriate for assessing African American students’ psychological distress. The dimensional structure of the BSI was first identified and held up under cross-validation with a second sample and a white sample. The measure was unidimensional among African American and white students. Our results suggested BSI in our samples presented characteristics such as low person separation, stability across samples, and little differential item functioning. Most African American and white students identified themselves on the low end of the categories in a 0–4 rating scale, indicating their low endorsement of the items on the BSI. Rasch analyses were completed with the original scale but also collapsing the scale to three points, with some increase in separation and reliability for the collapsed scale. As anticipated, differences in mean BSI scores were found for mental health-related variables. Implications for theory and research on multicultural health scales are discussed as are effects of item skewness on analyses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)