A Reexamination of the Factor Structure of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale: Is a One-Factor Model Plausible?

Michael C. Edwards, Jennifer S. Cheavens, Jane E. Heiy, Kelly C. Cukrowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) is one of the most widely used measures of depressive symptoms in research today. The original psychometric work in support of the CES-D (Radloff, 1977) described a 4-factor model underlying the 20 items on the scale. Despite a long history of evidence supporting this structure, researchers routinely report single-number summaries from the CES-D. The research described in this article examines the plausibility of 1-factor model using an initial sample of 595 subjects and a cross-validation sample of 661. After comparing a series of models found in the literature or suggested by analyses, we determined that the good fit of the 4-factor model is mostly due to its ability to model excess covariance associated with the 4 reverse-scored items. A 2-factor model that included a general depression factor and a positive wording method factor loading only on those 4 items had fit that was nearly as good as the original 4-factor model. We conclude that although a 1-factor model may not be the best model for the full 20-item CES-D, it is at least plausible. If a unidimensional set of items is required (e.g., for a unidimensional item response theory analysis), by dropping 5 items, we were able to find a 1-factor model that had very similar fit to the 4-factor model with the original 20 items.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-715
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Assessment
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • CES-D
  • Depression
  • Dimensionality
  • Factor analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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