Validity and psychometric properties of the General Health Questionnaire-12 in young Australian adolescents
Version of Record online: 23 MAY 2003
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 374–381, June 2003
How to Cite
Tait, R. J., French, D. J. and Hulse, G. K. (2003), Validity and psychometric properties of the General Health Questionnaire-12 in young Australian adolescents. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 37: 374–381. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1614.2003.01133.x
- Issue online: 23 MAY 2003
- Version of Record online: 23 MAY 2003
- Received 25 July 2002; revised 1 October 2002; accepted 8 October 2002.
- General Health Questionnaire;
Background: The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) is a measure of current mental wellbeing that has been extensively validated with adults. The instrument has also been used with adolescents.
Objective: (i) To assess the psychometric properties of the GHQ-12 among school students in grades 7−10; (ii) to validate it against other psychological tests; and (iii) to suggest a threshold score.
Method: The survey was conducted in single sex and mixed schools from the state and private system in Perth, Western Australia. The survey contained the GHQ-12 and measures of anxiety, depression, self-esteem, stress, generalized self-efficacy, social desirability and negative affectivity.
Results: There were 336 students (female 55%) with an age range of 11−15 years (median 13). The GHQ showed good internal consistency (alpha 0.88). Girls had higher mean GHQ-12 scores than boys (F (1,326) 15.0, p < 0.001) and scores for both genders increased with school grade (F (3,326) 4.2, p < 0.01). Multiple linear regression showed that depression, anxiety, self-esteem and stress were significant independent predictors of GHQ scores. The model accounted for 68% of the variance (adjusted R 2). Screening indices were calculated by comparison with a combined depression and/or anxiety category. Threshold scores of 13/14 for males and 18/19 for females appeared optimal. General Health Questionnaire scores were compared with two criterion groups: adolescents in hospital with alcohol or drug (AOD) related problems and those with problems not related to AOD use. Only the former group had significantly higher total scores.
Conclusions: The GHQ-12 showed good structural characteristics and was appropriately correlated with other measures of related traits. Overall, the GHQ-12 appears to be a valid index of psychological wellbeing in this population and was considerably shorter than some of the other instruments.