ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202109.0014.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019/COVID-19; Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21/DASS-21; DASS-8; shortened version*; shorter version* of the DASS-21; psychiatric disorders; factorial structure/psychometric properties/structural validity/validation; measurement invariance/multigroup analysis; psychological distress; discriminant validity; item coverage; good predictive validity
Online: 1 September 2021 (12:15:27 CEST)
Despite extensive investigations of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (DASS-21) since its development in 1995, its factor structure and other psychometric properties still need to be firmly established, with several calls for revising its item structure. Employing confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), this study examined the factor structure of the DASS-21 and five shortened versions of the DASS-21 among psychiatric patients (N = 168) and the general public (N = 992) during the COVID-19 confinement period in Saudi Arabia. Multigroup CFA, Mann Whitney W test, Spearman’s correlation, and coefficient alpha were used to examine the shortened versions of the DASS-21 (DASS-13, DASS-12, DASS-9 (two versions), and DASS-8) for invariance across age and gender groups, discriminant validity, predictive validity, item coverage, and internal consistency, respectively. Compared with the DASS-21, all three-factor structures of the shortened versions expressed good fit, with the DASS-8 demonstrating the best fit and highest item loadings on the corresponding factors in both samples (χ2(16, 15) = 16.5, 67.0; p = 0.420, 0.000; CFI= 1.000, 0.998; TLI = 0.999, 0.997; RMSEA = 0.013, 0.059, SRMR = 0.0186, 0.0203). It expressed configural, metric, and scalar invariance across age and gender groups. Its internal consistency was comparable to other versions (α = 0.94). Strong positive correlations of the DASS-8 and its subscales with the DASS-21 and its subscales (r = 0.97 to 0.81) suggest adequate item coverage and good predictive validity of this version. The DASS-8 and its subscales distinguished the clinical sample from the general public at the same level of significance expressed by the DASS-21 and other shortened versions, supporting its discriminant validity. Neither the DASS-21 nor the shortened versions distinguished patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety from other conditions. The DASS-8 represents a valid short version of the DASS-21, which may be useful in research and clinical practice for quick identification of individuals with potential psychopathologies. Diagnosing depression/anxiety disorders may be further confirmed in a next step by clinician-facilitated examinations. Brevity of the DASS-21 would save time and effort used for filling the questionnaire and support comprehensive assessments by allowing the inclusion of more measures on test batteries.