Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Stability in a Measure of Children's Health Locus and Control

Academic journal article Journal of School Health

Stability in a Measure of Children's Health Locus and Control

Article excerpt

Stability in a Measure of Children's Health Locus of Control

ABSTRACT: Increased interest in children's health locus of control has precipitated continued

examination of the psychometric properties of scales measuring this concept. The Children's Health

Locus of Control scale (CHLC) was administered to more than 1,000 urban black students in each of

four years across three grade levels: Year 1 - grades four-six to Year 4 - grades seven-nine.

Factor analyses revealed five factors forming scales with acceptable reliability at each year.

Students' beliefs that they have control over their own health increased as a function of age.

Beliefs in self-control had low, negative correlations with measures of external control.

Stability of CHLC and the relatively simple procedure (16 dichotomous items) suggest that, despite

problems with wording of some items, CHLC is an appropriate and efficient measure for comparing

cross-sectional and longitudinal samples in this age range. (J Sch Health 1989;59(4):161-164)

Measures of children's health locus of control have contributed significantly to a growing understanding of children's health beliefs and behavior during the past decade.[1-4] Such measures assess children's beliefs regarding the source of reinforcement for control they have over the status of their own health. Typically, beliefs range from the notion that individuals can significantly affect the direction of their own health to beliefs that one is helpless, that good or bad health is due to uncontrollable factors (good or bad luck), or that health can be controlled only by one more powerful or knowledgeable, such as a parent or a physician. Because such measures contribute to the understanding of health beliefs in children, the importance of verifying their psychometric properties has added significance.

The Children's Health Locus of Control (CHLC) scale[5] was the first such scale specifically designed for use with children. Parcel and Meyer's test of CHLC with second-sixth grade students revealed that most of the 20 items loaded on three factors: Internal (Self) Control, Chance, and Powerful Others. Four weaker factors also were evident, but these resulted from similarities in wording which made them unique in relation to other items. Overall scores increased as student's grade increased, reflecting higher levels of internal control among older children. No gender differences were evident on the scale scores.

Additional testing by Bush et al[6] indicated internality increased with socioeconomic status as well as with age. Alpha reliability coefficients (Kuder-Richardson 20) were significantly lower for younger children (K-2; range .030 to .393) compared to older children (third-sixth grade; range .513 to .742). Reliabilities for the youngest students improved when a picture version of the test developed earlier by Parcel was used with a second set of kindergarten students (alpha = .310).

Recently, utility of CHLC and the stability of its factor structure were tested by Hearne and Klockars.[7] Using two samples of sixth grade students, they felt the factor structures for the two groups were not equivalent, and did not fit the theoretical construct being tested. They also expressed concern about the high number of items they found did not load on any factor. Their conclusion, in contradiction to previous studies, was that the psychometric properties of CHLC were unstable, and that the measure should undergo significant revision prior to further use.

Thompson et al[8,9] recently studied the reliability and validity of the 18-item Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC) scale[10] when administered to an elementary school sample (fourth-sixth grade). This measure, based on an adult health locus of control scale, was adapted for use with a younger population and included some items patterned on CHLC. …

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