Background: Previous research on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) has five main limitations. First, no study provided evidence of the factorial equivalence of this instrument across samples of depressive and community participants. Second, only one study included systematic tests of measurement invariance based on confirmatory factor analyses (CFA), and this study did not consider the higher-order factor structure of depression, although it is the CES-D global scale score that is most often used in the context of epidemiological studies. Third, few studies investigated the screening properties of the CES-D in non-English-language samples and their results were inconsistent. Fourth, although the French version of the CES-D has been used in several previous studies, it has never been systematically validated among community and/or depressed adults. Finally, very few studies have taken into account the ordered-categorical nature of the CES-D answer scale. The purpose of the study reported herein was therefore to examine the construct validity (i.e., factorial, reliability, measurement invariance, latent mean invariance, convergence, and screening properties) of the CES-D in a French sample of depressed patients and community adults.
Methods: A total sample of 469 participants, comprising 163 clinically depressed patients and 306 community adults, was involved in this study. The factorial validity, and the measurement and latent mean invariance of the CES-D across gender and clinical status, were verified through CFAs based on ordered-categorical items. Correlation and receiver operator characteristic curves were also used to test the convergent validity and screening properties of the CES-D.
Results: The present results: (i) provided support for the factor validity and reliability of a second-order measurement model of depression based on responses to the CES-D items; (ii) revealed the full measurement invariance of the first- and second-order measurement models across gender; (iii) showed the partial strict measurement invariance (four uniquenesses had to be freely estimated, but the factor variance-covariance matrix also proved fully invariant) of the first-order factor model and the complete measurement invariance of the second-order model across patients and community adults; (iv) revealed a lack of latent mean invariance across gender and across clinical and community subsamples (with women and patients reporting higher scores on all subscales and on the full scale); (v) confirmed the convergent validity of the CES-D with measures of depression, self-esteem, anxiety, and hopelessness; and (vi) demonstrated the efficacy of the screening properties of this instrument among clinical and nonclinical adults.
Conclusion: This instrument may be useful for assessing depressive symptoms or for the screening of depressive disorders in the context of epidemiological studies targeting French patients and community men and women with a background similar to those from the present study.
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