Academic journal article Journal of Nursing Measurement

Modification and Psychometric Testing of the Reminiscence Functions Scale

Academic journal article Journal of Nursing Measurement

Modification and Psychometric Testing of the Reminiscence Functions Scale

Article excerpt

This article describes the psychometric evaluation of the Modified Reminiscence Functions Scale (MRFS). The 39-item MRFS was validated on a sample of 271 racially diverse older adults. Psychometric analysis included content validity, item analysis, principal component analysis with varimax rotation, test-retest reliability, and internal consistency reliability using Cronbach's alpha. The model's structure supports a seven-factor, 39-item scale. Test-retest and Cronbach's alpha for the instrument were .82 and .94, respectively. The seven-factor scale: self-regard, death, bitterness, intimacy, teach-inform, boredom, and conversation accounted for 61% of variance. Evidence indicates the self-report Likert instrument is a reliable and valid measure of reminiscence functions. Cross-validation with other populations and further research is needed to identify other reminiscence dimensions-functions.

Keywords: psychological adaptation; reminiscence; instrument development

For the older adult, age-related changes, chronic conditions, and multiple physiological, psychological, social, and role adjustments occur, requiring adaptive functions and abilities. Consequently, the older adult is challenged in a dynamic environment to adjust and maintain a sense of identity (Quackenbush & Barnett, 1995). The purposeful recall of past experiences and events can provide a reservoir of memories that can be used to maintain a sense of identity, make sense of reality, confirm existence, and assist with adaptation to the present. However, remorse or lamentation over lost chances or missed opportunities can result in maladaptation (Roy, 1997).

Reminiscence, the recall of past experiences, has been found to be purposeful and to serve a particular function for an individual (Fry, 1995; Quackenbush & Barnett, 1995; Webster, 1993). The function differs from person to person and may be uniquely influenced by variables such as personality, age, gender, and ethnicity (Romaniuk & Romaniuk, 1981; Webster, 1993). The purposeful recall of past experiences, accomplishments, and failures can have an adaptive function by validating the past as unchangeable and worthwhile, or a maladaptive function when there is lamentation and depression over regrets and missed opportunities (Bachar, Kindler, Scheler, & Lerer, 1991; Kovach, 1990).

If used appropriately, reminiscence is a natural, self-healing process that contributes to adaptive processes for persons in the second half of life (Bachar et al., 1991). It would therefore be beneficial to know the function reminiscence serves for a person prior to encouraging the person to engage in the process. A reliable and valid instrument to identify adaptive and maladaptive recall through self-reported introspection is needed to delineate why persons reminiscence. The Reminiscence Functions Scale (Webster, 1993) was developed to identify adaptive and maladaptive recall; however, it was developed and tested primarily in well-educated Whites drawn from a college population. The purpose of this article is to describe the modification and psychometric evaluation of the Modified Reminiscence Functions Scale (MRFS) to assess reminiscence functions in ethnically diverse older adult community residents.


Developed by Webster (1993), the items of the Reminiscence Functions Scale were generated in two stages. First, 40 adult, predominately White, community college students were asked to write statements that identified why they or other persons might reminisce. This resulted in 115 statements. As part of the second stage of item generation and reduction-selection, Webster used a group of 116 predominately White and Chinese community college students. The participants were asked to rank each item, on a 6-point Likert scale, as to how often they reminisced with the stated purpose in mind. Subsequently, a 54-item, 6-point (1 = never to 6 = very frequently) Likert-type questionnaire was developed and named the Reminiscence Functions Scale prototype (RFS-p). …

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