Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Assessing Family Outcomes: Psychometric Evaluation of the Beach Center Family Quality of Life Scale

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Assessing Family Outcomes: Psychometric Evaluation of the Beach Center Family Quality of Life Scale

Article excerpt

There is currently a lack of reliable scales with which to assess the construct of family quality of life, particularly for families who have children with disabilities. The current work presents 2 studies, including a total of 488 families with children with disabilities, which were conducted to complete the development of a scale to assess family quality of life. The measure was refined through confirmatory factor analyses into 25 items that assess 5 domains of Family Quality of Life: Family Interaction, Parenting, Emotional Well-Being, Physical/Material Well-Being, and Disability-Related Support. Each subscale was found to be unidimensional and internally consistent. An initial examination of test-retest reliability and convergent validity is also presented. Implications for future research, scale use, and policy are discussed.

Key Words: child with disabilities, family interaction, family policy, family resource management.

The concept of quality of life is often an important outcome in both research and applied settings but has been difficult to quantify empirically. Research on quality of life has traditionally focused on individuals rather than families (Blake & Anderson, 2000; Chipuer & Bramston, 2003; Holloway & Carson, 2002; Meuleners, Lee, Binns, & Lower, 2003). In the developmental disabilities field, the conceptualization of individual quality of life as a multidimensional construct has matured significantly over the past 20 years (Cummins, 1997; Felce, 1997; Goode, 1997; Schalock et al., 2002), expanding to include such factors as emotional wellbeing, interpersonal relationships, material wellbeing, personal development, physical well-being, self-determination, social inclusion, and disabilityrelated rights. Improved individual quality of life is often an important outcome of research interventions and service programs (e.g., Bailey et al., 1998; Dunst & Bruder, 2002; McKenzie, 1999) and thus measures of quality of life are important in demonstrating the effectiveness of policies, programs, or treatments. In many cases, however, the resulting overall quality of life of the family receiving the intervention or services is of interest instead of, or in addition to, the quality of life of the individual. As such, it is important to have an appropriate measure of quality of life when the unit of analysis is the family.

The increased emphasis on accountability at the federal level has led to a call for identification and measurement of program outcomes. Health, social service, and education programs frequently espouse a family-centered approach to practice; consequently, policy makers at the federal level increasingly recognize the importance of including family outcome measures. For example, the Office of Special Education Programs has mandated the measurement of family outcomes for early intervention programs (Early Childhood Outcomes Center, 2005). The concept of family quality of life provides a comprehensive indicator of program outcome that encompasses the broad impacts of services and offers opportunities to compare program effects across different service models.

Although family quality of life has been the topic of previous empirical inquiry, the measures that have been developed thus far have been qualitative in nature (e.g., extensive family interviews; Brown, Anand, Fung, Isaacs, & Baum, 2003) or have been designed for a specific population (e.g., families of adolescents; Olson & Barnes, 1982). On the one hand, a qualitative approach to assessing subjective family well-being has the advantage of providing a grounded theory - based (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) measure that is reflective of the language and voices of the participants, the lengthy administration and level of skill required to interpret the results prohibit use of such a measure in large-scale theoretical or applied research. On the other hand, a measure developed through a theory-based process, such as the Olson and Barnes scale, may exclude essential elements of family quality of life. …

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