Objective Recent studies into the factorial structure of the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) have shown that it was best represented by a single substantive factor when method effects associated with negatively worded (NW) items are considered. The purpose of the present study was to examine the presence of method effects, and their relationships with demographic covariates, associated with positively worded (PW) and/or NW items. Design A cross-sectional, observational study to compare a comprehensive set of confirmatory factor models, including method effects associated with PW and/or NW items with GHQ-12 responses. Setting Representative sample of all employees living in Catalonia (Spain). Participants 3050 participants (44.6% women) who responded the Second Catalonian Survey of Working Conditions. Results A confirmatory factor analysis showed that the best fitting model was a unidimensional model with two additional uncorrelated method factors associated with PW and NW items. Furthermore, structural equation modelling (SEM) revealed that method effects were differentially related to both the sex and age of the respondents. Conclusion Individual differences related to sex and age can help to identify respondents who are prone to answering PW and NW items differently. Consequently, it is desirable that both the constructs of interest as well as the effects of method factors are considered in SEM models as a means of avoiding the drawing of inaccurate conclusions about the relationships between the substantive factors.
- confirmatory factor analysis
- General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12)
- item wording effects
- method effects
- psychological health