Background: The objectives of this study were to test the factor structure and internal consistency of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the Subjective Vitality Scale (VS) in elderly French people, and to test the relationship between these two questionnaires.
Methods: Using a standard 'forward-backward' translation procedure, the English language versions of the two instruments (i.e. the 12-item General Health Questionnaire and the Subjective Vitality Scale) were translated into French. A sample of adults aged 58-72 years then completed both questionnaires. Internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach's alpha coefficient. The factor structures of the two instruments were extracted by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Finally, the relationship between the two instruments was assessed by correlation analysis.
Results: In all, 217 elderly adults participated in the study. The mean age of the respondents was 61.7 (SD = 6.2) years. The mean GHQ-12 score was 17.4 (SD = 8.0), and analysis showed satisfactory internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha coefficient = 0.78). The mean VS score was 22.4 (SD = 7.4) and its internal consistency was found to be good (Cronbach's alpha coefficient = 0.83). While CFA showed that the VS was uni-dimensional, analysis for the GHQ-12 demonstrated a good fit not only to the two-factor model (positive vs. negative items) but also to a three-factor model. As expected, there was a strong and significant negative correlation between the GHQ-12 and the VS (r = -0.71, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: The results showed that the French versions of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the Subjective Vitality Scale (VS) are reliable measures of psychological distress and vitality. They also confirm a significant negative correlation between these two instruments, lending support to their convergent validity in an elderly French population. The findings indicate that both measures have good structural characteristics.