Original Research

Invariance and item bias of the Mental Health Continuum Short-Form for South African university first-year students

Karina Mostert, Leon de Beer, Ronalda de Beer
African Journal of Psychological Assessment | Vol 6 | a143 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajopa.v6i0.143 | © 2024 Karina Mostert, Leon de Beer, Ronalda de Beer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2023 | Published: 26 March 2024

About the author(s)

Karina Mostert, Department of Management Cybernetics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Leon de Beer, WorkWell Research Unit, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Ronalda de Beer, Department of Management Cybernetics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Abstract

Over the last decade, higher education institutions (HEIs) have become increasingly interested in student well-being. However, since the student population is very diverse in South Africa, questionnaires measuring the well-being of students must be psychometrically sound for different cultural and demographic groups. This study aimed to determine the psychometric properties of the Mental Health Continuum Short-Form (MHC-SF), including factorial validity, measurement invariance, item bias and internal consistency. The sample consisted of 1285 first-year university students. The three-factor structure of the MHC-SF was confirmed, indicating that emotional, social and psychological well-being are three independent factors. Invariance results showed that the MHC-SF produced similar results across campuses and gender sub-groups, although partial invariance was present among language groups. Item bias was present for different sub-groups, but the practical impact was negligible. Reliability scores indicated that all three dimensions are reliable in this sample. This study’s findings could help higher education institutions with preliminary results on the validity and reliability of a widely used well-being measure to assess university students’ subjective well-being and could aid in investigating and measuring first-year students’ overall well-being during their transition to tertiary education.

Contribution: This study contributes to creating knowledge about fair and unbiased measurement of student well-being across different sub-groups in South Africa.


Keywords

subjective well-being; Mental Health Continuum-Short Form; factorial validity; configural invariance; metric invariance; scalar invariance; item bias; internal consistency; first-year university students

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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