The South African former detainees distress scale: Results of a Rasch item response theory analysis

Kagee A. ; De Bruin G.P. (2007)


The present study was undertaken to determine the performance of items on a scale developed to measure distress associated with the experience of political detention and torture during the apartheid era in South Africa. In Stage 1 of the study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 participants who were former detainees. These qualitative data were used to form the 24 items of the South African Former Detainees' Distress Scale. In Stage 2, the 24-item scale was administered to 148 participants and the data were analysed using Rasch analysis. The results of the analysis revealed large standardised residuals and significant chi-squares for seven items which, when deleted, fit the Rasch model relatively well. The person-separation reliability was 0.91, which suggests that overall the scale reliably separates individuals with different trait levels. The item hierarchy showed that respondents were most unlikely to endorse items reflecting bitterness regarding the effects of participation in the anti-apartheid movement. Rather, they were most likely to endorse items relating to everyday financial and health problems and general distress. The hierarchy that emerged in the analysis appears to lend support to the construct validity of the distress scale. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.

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