Psychometric evaluation of approaches to measuring maltreatment in Add Health


Brumley, Lauren & Jaffee, Sara (2014). Psychometric evaluation of approaches to measuring maltreatment in Add Health. 2014 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Purpose: Recent high-profile cases have highlighted the need for research to better identify and serve children experiencing maltreatment. Maltreatment is a multifaceted collection of experiences defined in specific terms due to associated legal implications. However, estimates of maltreatment in Add Health have ranged considerably (e.g., physical abuse estimates range from 8% to 53% of the sample). Using both Wave 3 and 4 data provides an opportunity to strengthen the validity and reliability of measuring maltreatment in Add Health. This paper describes the development and psychometric evaluation of a measure of maltreatment, which will be compared to factor analytic and weighted-average approaches to measuring maltreatment in Add Health. Method: Measures of physical and supervisory neglect, and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were examined for cross-item correlations, inter-wave reliability, convergent validity with related constructs, and predictive validity. Sensitivity tests were conducted to determine cut-points to be consistent with rates reported in other epidemiological surveys. Results: Results indicate a lack of construct validity for supervisory neglect and emotional abuse items. Roughly similar to estimates from other surveys, 8% reported experiencing physical neglect, 13% reported physical abuse, and 5% reported sexual abuse. We expect the current measure will demonstrate stronger validity than factor analytic and weighted-average measures of maltreatment.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2014 Add Health Users Conference


Brumley, Lauren
Jaffee, Sara

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID