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Internal construct validity of the stress-energy questionnaire in a working population, a cohort study

Journal article
Authors Emina Hadzibajramovic
Gunnar Ahlborg
Anna Grimby-Ekman
Åsa Lundgren Nilsson
Published in Bmc Public Health
Volume 15
Pages Article Number: 180
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Health Metrics
Pages Article Number: 180
Language en
Keywords Stress-energy questionnaire, Work stress, Rasch analysis, Questionnaires, Ordinal data, RASCH MEASUREMENT MODEL, TERM SICKNESS ABSENCE, HEALTH, BURNOUT, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Environmental medicine, Social and Clinical Pharmacy


Background: Psychosocial stress at work has been recognised as one of the most important factors behind the increase in sick leave due to stress-related mental disorders. It is therefore important to be able to measure perceived work stress in a way that is both valid and reliable. It has been suggested that the Stress-Energy Questionnaire (SEQ) could be a useful tool for measuring mood (stress and energy) at work and it has been used in many Scandinavian studies. The aim of the study is to examine the internal construct validity of the SEQ in a working population and to address measurement issues, such as the ordering of response categories and potential differences in how women and men use the scale what is termed differential item functioning (DIF). Methods: The data used in the present study is baseline data from a longitudinal cohort study aimed at evaluating psychosocial working conditions, stress, health and well-being among employees in two human service organisations in Western Sweden. A modern psychometric approach for scale validations, the Rasch model, was used. Results: Stress items showed a satisfactory fit to the model. Problems related to unidimensionality and local dependence were found when the six stress items were fitted to the model, but these could be resolved by using two testlets. As regards the energy scale, although the final analysis showed an acceptable fit to the model some scale problems were identified. The item dull had disordered thresholds and DIF for gender was detected for the item passive. The items were not well targeted to the persons, with skewness towards high energy. This might explain the scale problems that were detected but these problems need to be investigated in a group where the level of energy is spread across the trait, measured by the SEQ. Conclusion: The stress scale of the SEQ has good psychometric properties and provides a useful tool for assessing work-related stress, on both group and individual levels. However, the limitations of the energy scale make it suitable for group evaluations only. The energy scale needs to be evaluated further in different settings and populations.

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