Purpose: To review the concepts of reliability and validity, provide examples of how the concepts have been used in nursing research, provide guidance for improving the psychometric soundness of instruments, and report suggestions from editors of nursing journals for incorporating psychometric data into manuscripts.
Methods: CINAHL, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO databases were searched using key words: validity, reliability, and psychometrics. Nursing research articles were eligible for inclusion if they were published in the last 5 years, quantitative methods were used, and statistical evidence of psychometric properties were reported. Reports of strong psychometric properties of instruments were identified as well as those with little supporting evidence of psychometric soundness.
Findings: Reports frequently indicated content validity but sometimes the studies had fewer than five experts for review. Criterion validity was rarely reported and errors in the measurement of the criterion were identified. Construct validity remains underreported. Most reports indicated internal consistency reliability (alpha) but few reports included reliability testing for stability. When retest reliability was asserted, time intervals and correlations were frequently not included.
Conclusions: Planning for psychometric testing through design and reducing nonrandom error in measurement will add to the reliability and validity of instruments and increase the strength of study findings. Underreporting of validity might occur because of small sample size, poor design, or lack of resources. Lack of information on psychometric properties and misapplication of psychometric testing is common in the literature.