Family Functioning Measures: Convergent and Discriminant Validity

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to conduct psychometric analysis of three self-report family functioning measures. Twenty-five families were recruited for study participation. The families consisted of a very low birthweight infant, the infant's mother, and an adult partner with whom the mother resided. Campbell and Fiske's (1959) multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) of establishing convergent and discriminant validity was employed. Traits consisted of mutuality and communication, and methods were three self-report family functioning measures: Family Dynamics Measure II (FDM II), Family Functioning Style Scale (FFSS), and the Self-Report Family Inventory (SFI). Factor analysis was employed to confirm the findings generated from the MTMM method . The mothers and adult partners were examined independently. Convergent and discriminant validity was not established.

Key words: Family Systems, Multitrait-multimethod matrix, Very low birthweight infants

Despite four decades of progress in providing prenatal care to pregnant women, there has been no improvement in the preterm infant birth rate within the U.S. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, 1995). Technologic and pharmacological advancements have produced a decline in mortality for very low birthweight (VLBW) infants or infants under 1 500 grams (Goldenberg, 1994; Rouse et al., 1994; Ventura, Martin, Curtin & Mathews, 1999). The rate of handicaps, however, has remained steady (Goldenberg & Rouse, 1998; Hacketal., 1991; McCormick, 1989).

Very low birthweight infants remain at risk for developmental disabilities (Thompson et al., 1994). Because economic strain, special education, and long-term care are frequently produced, preterm birth remains a significant health care concern (Morrison, 1990). Healthy developmental outcomes are attainable in VLBW infants; therefore, the recognition of influences on outcomes is critical to families delivering infants prematurely. If research agendas are to be established, interventions developed, and theoretic frameworks reassessed, revised, and extended, an early recognition of such influences is imperative (Taylor, Klein, Schatschneider & Hack, 1998).

Although biologic risk factors such as birthweight have been widely accepted as indicators of developmental outcomes, considering birthweight alone is inadequate. Exclusive attention to infants' birthweight precipitated a paradigmatic shift in research agendas. A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that social influences such as the home environment, social support, and life stress serve as the best indicators of a child's long term developmental outcome (Leonard et al., 1990). As biological risks wane, the caregiving environment of family system has an increasing influence on developmental outcomes (Thompson, et al., 1998). Socioeconomic status, education, and the environment in which the child is raised appear to be the most important factors accounting for later development (Korner et al., 1993). Social influences have become increasingly important (Taylor et al., 1998).

The family system has been identified as a major environmental influence on the growth and development of the VLBW infant (Beckwith & Parmelee, 1986; Belsky, Lerner & Spanier, 1984; Minde, Perrotta & Hellman, 1988). In a system of interactions, the actions of one person (e.g., the father) can affect the responses of another person (e.g., the mother). These actions and responses can be influenced further by the presence or absence of a VLBW infant. From an ecological systems perspective, the VLBW infant is viewed as an indirect influence to which the individual and family system endeavor to adapt (Thompson et al, 1994). The infant's interactions can also affect the interactions of other people within the system. The family, therefore, is an interactional system with the potential for creating and/or modifying interactions and optimizing individual responses. …