Abstract: Testing the Cross-National Validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale Among Kenyan Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 21st Annual Conference - Ensure Healthy Development for all Youth)

346P Testing the Cross-National Validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale Among Kenyan Youth

Friday, January 13, 2017
Bissonet (New Orleans Marriott)
* noted as presenting author
Njeri Kagotho, Phd, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Fred M. Ssewamala, PhD, Professor, Columbia University, New York, NY
Michael G. Vaughn, PhD, Professor, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Gwyn Kirkbride, MSW, Research Assistant, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background and purpose: Hopelessness is a common feature in resource deprived areas of sub- Saharan Africa.  Given the close association that exists between hopelessness and depression and the concomitant lack of adequate screening, assessment, and treatment protocols in these contexts identifying reliable and valid measures of hopelessness is badly needed. One promising candidate measure, the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), has undergone limited evaluation in Nigeria and South Africa but unfortunately not in east African nations such as Kenya.  Establishing the universality and cross-cultural validity of key mental health assessment tools such as hopelessness is of critical importance. As such, the present study assesses the psychometric properties of the BHS among a large sample of Kenyan youth enrolled in a randomized control trial known as YouthSave Kenya. 

Methods: Data was derived from 3965 youth (M=12.2, SD=1.1) participating in the YouthSave Kenya randomized trial. The sampling frame was composed of 90 schools from across the country.  Primary measures included the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) and the Child Development Inventory (CDI). To establish cross-cultural equivalence, YouthSave Kenya measures were translated into Kiswahili—the national language and back into to English.  Cronbach’s alpha was used to determine the scale’s internal consistency. Exploratory (EFA) and confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) techniques were employed to determine the factor structure of the BHS across the total sample. Concurrent validity was assessed by computing correlations between the BHS and the CDI. Finally, predictive validity was assessed by examining mean scores between BHS and follow-up inventories assessing future self and confidence in achieving educational plans.

Results: The BHS was found to possess adequate internal consistency (α= 0.781). EFA model findings indicated that a three-factor model fit the data and was readily interpretable. The three factors represented by the 14 retained variables were  discouragement (items 1, 2, and 3), powerlessness (items 6, 7, 10, 13, and 15), and pessimism (items 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, and 20).  CFA modeling indices showed that a three factor solution fit the data well (RMSEA = 0.027, CFI = 0.977, TLI = 0.971). Concurrent validity tests showed a moderate association between the BHS and CDI (r = 0.30, p =< .0001). Finally, youth who cared about their future self-had a lower BHS score (M=2.4, SD=2.7) when compared to their peers (M=4.1, SD= 3.3) t, (3934) =7.8, p<0.0001, d = 0.61 suggesting the BHS possess predictive validity in this sample. Youth reporting high certainty in achieving their education plans also reported lower levels of hopelessness.

Conclusions: Results indicate that the Beck Hopelessness Scale is applicable to children and youth in Kenya and possibly sub-Saharan Africa generally. Findings provide not only cross-national evidence for the utility of the BHS, but also support the BHS as a time efficient and easy to administer measure that possesses sound psychometric properties. Given its utility, we encourage additional psychometric testing of the BHS by other social work researchers who operate in non-western contexts.