The factor structure and factorial invariance of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) across time: evidence from two community-based samples

Psychol Assess. 2006 Dec;18(4):444-51. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.18.4.444.


This study provides new knowledge about the factor structure of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12; D. Goldberg, 1972) through the application of confirmatory factor analysis to longitudinal data, thereby enabling investigation of the factor structure, its invariance across time, and the rank-order stability of the factors. Two community-based longitudinal adult samples with 1-year (n = 640) and 6-year (n = 330) follow-up times were studied. As a result, the correlated 3-factor model (i.e., Anxiety/Depression, Social Dysfunction, and Loss of Confidence) showed a better fit with both samples than the alternative models. The correlated 3-factor structure was also relatively invariant across time in both samples, indicating that the scale has good construct validity. The rank-order stabilities of the factors were low across time, which suggests that the GHQ-12 measures temporal mental state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Time Factors