Objective: The Whiteley Index (WI) is a widely used screening instrument for health anxiety/hypochondriasis. Several studies have previously explored the psychometric properties of the WI, but with mixed findings concerning both item composition and factor structure. The main aim of the current study was to examine different factor structures as identified from previous studies using data from a large general population based study. We also wanted to provide gender specific norms.
Methods: Data were taken from a large population-based study in Norway, the Hordaland Health Study (HUSK N=7274). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of several models of the WI was conducted. Item response theory (IRT) analysis was performed on the model with the best goodness-of-fit.
Results: CFA of all previously proposed factor models of the WI revealed clearly inadequate model fits. The IRT analysis suggested that a six-item model best described the data, and CFA confirmed an adequate goodness-of-fit across indices.
Conclusion: The current study found evidence for a six-item, single-factor model of the WI. Our findings suggest that this abbreviated version has the best factor structure compared to previously proposed factor models. We recommend that the factor structure identified in this study should be investigated further in independent samples.
Keywords: Factor structure; Health anxiety; Hypochondriasis; Item response theory analysis; Population based study; Whiteley Index.
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