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Psychological Distress Across Adulthood: Equating Scales in Three British Birth Cohorts

Jongsma, Hannah E; Moulton, Vanessa G; Ploubidis, George B; Gilbert, Emily; Richards, Marcus; Patalay, Praveetha; (2022) Psychological Distress Across Adulthood: Equating Scales in Three British Birth Cohorts. Clinical Psychological Science 10.1177/21677026221095856. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Valid and reliable life-course and cross-cohort comparisons of psychological distress are limited by differences in measures used. We aimed to examine adulthood distribution of symptoms and cross-cohort trends by equating the scales of psychological-distress measures administered in the 1946, 1958, and 1970 British birth cohorts. We used data from these three birth cohorts (N = 32,242) and an independently recruited calibration sample (n = 5,800) to inform the equating of scales. We used two approaches to equating scales (equipercentile linking and multiple imputation) and two index measures (General Health Questionnaire-12 and Malaise-9) to compare means, distributions, and prevalence of distress across adulthood. Although we consistently observed an inverse U shape of distress across adulthood, we also observed measure and method differences in point estimates, particularly for cross-cohort comparisons. Sensitivity analysis suggested that multiple imputation yielded more accurate estimates than equipercentile linking. Although we observed an inverse-U-shaped trajectory of psychological distress across adulthood, differences in point estimates between measures and methods did not allow for clear conclusions regarding between-cohorts trends.

Type: Article
Title: Psychological Distress Across Adulthood: Equating Scales in Three British Birth Cohorts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/21677026221095856
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/21677026221095856
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Social Sciences, Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychology, Clinical, Psychiatry, Psychology, epidemiology, public health, statistical analysis, preregistered, MENTAL-HEALTH, DEPRESSION, AGE, QUESTIONNAIRE, PROFILE, PERIOD, UK
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine > MRC Unit for Lifelong Hlth and Ageing
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science > Population Science and Experimental Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10157777
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