Abstract: Using Item Response Theory Linking to Accurately Measure Behavioral and Emotional Functioning Among Bipocs (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Using Item Response Theory Linking to Accurately Measure Behavioral and Emotional Functioning Among Bipocs

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Michael Lambert, PhD, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Rationale:

Studies measuring psychosocial functioning of BIPOC use measures designed for Euromerican middle-class individuals. This practice does not consider differences in the realities and idiomatic expressions across BIPOC and Euromericans. To accurately measure BIPOC functioning, it is essential to address cultural and conceptual validity. Otherwise, such measures might yield inaccurate results. Cultural validity means that a measure should be written in the vernacular that BIPOC individuals use and should reflect the reality in which they live. Conceptual equivalence refers to whether items making up dimensions in a measure have the same meaning across groups (Tajima 2021). This paper presents research that developed the Behavioral Assessment for Children Heritage (BACAH) and the Caribbean Symptom Checklist (CSC). It also describes processes that ensured cultural and conceptual validity for the groups and demonstrates that each group's measurement equivalence can be achieved while accounting for cultural validity.


BACAH, data were collected on more than 1,000 parents and teachers who reported on non-referred and clinic-referred African American children ages 4 to 18 and more than 1,000 non-referred and referred African American youth ages 11 to 18. The BACAH and the CSC were developed from focus groups conducted with members from the groups whose functioning they were designed to measure and studies of clinical records for more than 1,000 African American youth and over 500 Jamaican adults. Focus groups identified psychosocial strengths and problems, and clinic record studies on each respective group identified psychosocial problems. Item Response Theory (IRT) estimated the psychometric properties of the CSC and BACAH to demonstrate equivalence across Jamaican and African American youth.


The BACAH has two strengths dimensions labeled Resilience and Self-Regulation and Prosocial behavior. To ensure Conceptual Validity in the BACAH and CSC problem scales, clinicians who treat African American children and those who treat Caribbean adults, respectively, placed items under broad ICD-10 dimensions. The BACAH has eight dimensions (i.e., Anxiety, Attention, Conduct Problems, Mania/Hypomania, Depression, oppositional defiance, reality contact problems, and Self-Destructive behavior). The CSC has six dimensions labeled Aggressive/Antisocial, Anxiety, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity, Depression, Mania/Hypomania, and Psychosis. To demonstrate Metric and Scalar invariance cross-nationally while accounting for cultural validity, BACAH Resilience scale that differed across Jamaican and African American youth was subjected to IRT linking, which showed that these forms of invariance were addressed.


There is a paucity of literature about accurate behavioral and emotional functioning measures among BIPOCs. Measures used are usually developed and normed on Euromericans, and BIPOCs are often an afterthought. This is usually addressed by configural invariance and less so by metric and scalar invariance, especially when groups are compared. Cultural and conceptual validity are often ignored. IRT linking permits equivalence even when two or more groups have different items that are culturally valid for them. Addressing this problem required creating new measures designed by and for BIPOC.