Objective: To evaluate the psychometric properties of a vegetable parenting practices scale using multidimensional polytomous item response modeling which enables assessing item fit to latent variables and the distributional characteristics of the items in comparison to the respondents. We also tested for differences in the ways item function (called differential item functioning) across child's gender, ethnicity, age, and household income groups.
Method: Parents of 3-5 year old children completed a self-reported vegetable parenting practices scale online. Vegetable parenting practices consisted of 14 effective vegetable parenting practices and 12 ineffective vegetable parenting practices items, each with three subscales (responsiveness, structure, and control). Multidimensional polytomous item response modeling was conducted separately on effective vegetable parenting practices and ineffective vegetable parenting practices.
Results: One effective vegetable parenting practice item did not fit the model well in the full sample or across demographic groups, and another was a misfit in differential item functioning analyses across child's gender. Significant differential item functioning was detected across children's age and ethnicity groups, and more among effective vegetable parenting practices than ineffective vegetable parenting practices items. Wright maps showed items only covered parts of the latent trait distribution. The harder- and easier-to-respond ends of the construct were not covered by items for effective vegetable parenting practices and ineffective vegetable parenting practices, respectively.
Conclusions: Several effective vegetable parenting practices and ineffective vegetable parenting practices scale items functioned differently on the basis of child's demographic characteristics; therefore, researchers should use these vegetable parenting practices scales with caution. Item response modeling should be incorporated in analyses of parenting practice questionnaires to better assess differences across demographic characteristics.
Keywords: Differential item functioning; Multidimensional item response modeling; Parenting practices; Vegetable.
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