Rasch model analysis of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS)

Shea, Tracey L.; Tennant, Alan; Pallant, Julie F.
January 2009
BMC Psychiatry;2009, Vol. 9, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: There is a growing awareness of the need for easily administered, psychometrically sound screening tools to identify individuals with elevated levels of psychological distress. Although support has been found for the psychometric properties of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS) using classical test theory approaches it has not been subjected to Rasch analysis. The aim of this study was to use Rasch analysis to assess the psychometric properties of the DASS-21 scales, using two different administration modes. Methods: The DASS-21 was administered to 420 participants with half the sample responding to a web-based version and the other half completing a traditional pencil-and-paper version. Conformity of DASS-21 scales to a Rasch partial credit model was assessed using the RUMM2020 software. Results: To achieve adequate model fit it was necessary to remove one item from each of the DASS-21 subscales. The reduced scales showed adequate internal consistency reliability, unidimensionality and freedom from differential item functioning for sex, age and mode of administration. Analysis of all DASS-21 items combined did not support its use as a measure of general psychological distress. A scale combining the anxiety and stress items showed satisfactory fit to the Rasch model after removal of three items. Conclusion: The results provide support for the measurement properties, internal consistency reliability, and unidimensionality of three slightly modified DASS-21 scales, across two different administration methods. The further use of Rasch analysis on the DASS-21 in larger and broader samples is recommended to confirm the findings of the current study.


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