The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

The Factor Structure of the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 With Latino Immigrant Day Laborers

Saturday, January 18, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Nalini Negi, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Derek Iwamoto, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at College Park, College Park, MD
Despite the estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants that live in the U.S. there is an absence of a well-defined understanding of this population’s mental health status. This study aims to examine the factor structure of the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18; Derogatis, 2001) in a hard-to-reach population of mainly undocumented immigrant Latino day laborers (LDLs). LDLs are largely comprised of single, Latino, undocumented immigrant men working in the informal economy. Research indicates that LDLs’ mental health may be compromised due to their difficult life and work conditions. With Latinos having some of the lowest rates of access and utilization of mental health services, research on the social epidemiology of mental health problems are needed to minimize emerging health disparities among LDLs. Subsequently, valid and reliable assessment instruments are needed to begin to understand the mental health needs of LDLs living in the United States. While, the BSI-18 has been found to be a valid and reliable measure of psychological distress, cross-cultural assessments in sub-groups of Latino immigrants are scarce with this being the first study to examine the factor structure of the Spanish version of the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18; Derogatis, 2001) with LDLs. An examination of the factor structure of the BSI-18, an 18 item measure that measures level of distress over the previous 7 days along three dimensions (somatization, anxiety, and depression), is important to demonstrate stability of the factor structure across minority and majority groups and to detect potential factorial invariance among racial/ethnic groups.

Methods: Participants (N=150) were recruited from day labor sites in a large southwestern city as part of a larger study on the well-being of Latino migrant day laborers. To be eligible to participate in the study, participants had to be Latino, male, aged 18 or older, and currently working as a day laborer.

Results:  A series of principal axis exploratory factor analytic procedures examining one to three-factor models were performed. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy value was .85, and the Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity was significant, χ = 838.26 (df = 15.), p <.001, which indicated that factorability of the data was good.  A one-factor model emerged and four items were dropped due to low factor loadings. The single factor appeared to reflect general somatic-psychological distress, and the three strongest loadings included fearful (.71), depressed (.709), and nervousness (.65). The internal consistency coefficients for the 14-item BSI were α = .87. These findings are aligned with previous findings with low-income Latina mothers (Prelow et al, 2005), and suggest that  in contrast to the original three dimension structure, the BSI-18 appears to measure a single dimension of general somatic-psychological distress in this sample of LDLs.

Implications: Researchers are recommended to use the BSI-18 as a general measure of psychological distress with LDLs. Findings have implications for elucidating the prevalence of psychological distress among LDLs as well as advancing the research on the mental health of this population.