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A Method for Meta-Analytic Confirmatory Factor Analysis


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Research presentation by Kamden Strunk on A Method for Meta-Analytic Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Originally presented at the Southwestern Psychological Association in 2013.

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A Method for Meta-Analytic Confirmatory Factor Analysis

  1. 1. A Method for Meta-Analytic Confirmatory Factor AnalysisKamden K. Strunk, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University Center for Research on STEM Teaching and Learning & School of Educational Studies Research Evaluation Statistics and Assessment
  2. 2. The Need for a Method  Many instruments have controversial structure.  Instrument structure has practical implications.  Changes in the scoring of an instrument have impacts on:  Mental Health diagnoses  Performance assessments  Education  Theory
  3. 3. Existing Methods  Existing methods use Generalized Least Squares estimation.  This is necessary in MA-SEM, but results in imprecise estimates.  Generalized Least Squares estimation (or the two-stage MA-SEM method) is unnecessary in the case of MA-CFA.
  4. 4. An Exact Method  In the case of factor analysis, correlation matrices and item descriptives are often given.  When not given, they can be easily obtained by contacting authors.  Correlation matrices with item SDs are easily converted to covariance matrices.  Covariance matrices are then easily converted to SSCP matrices.  SSCP matrices use summation, and thus can be combined.
  5. 5. The Method  First, the inter-item correlation matrices are converted to variance (𝑠 𝑥 2 = (𝑠 𝑥)2)/covariance (𝑠 𝑥𝑦 = 𝑟𝑥𝑦(𝑠 𝑥 𝑠 𝑦)) matrices.  Next, the variance/covariance matrices are converted to SSCP matrices ( (𝑋 − 𝑋)(𝑌 − 𝑌) = 𝑠 𝑥𝑦(𝑁 − 1))  Then, the SSCP matrices are added together.  Finally, the combined SSCP matrix is divided by the total sample size for all combined samples minus one.  This results in a combined variance/covariance matrix for all of the sampled studies.
  6. 6. An Illustrative Case  One example is the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edition (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996).  This scale is widely used by clinicians in the measurement of depression, thus making it all the more important to understand its psychometric properties.  Among those who have explored the structure of the BDI-II, a number of differing solutions have emerged.  The controversy with the structure of the BDI-II is regarding both the number of factors, as well as their nature.
  7. 7. Proposed Factor Solutions  Two-Factor:  Among the two-factor solutions, the cognitive/somatic split is most common.  However, there are many variations on this general theme. Some include a somatic-affective factor alongside a cognitive (Arnau, Meagher, Norris, & Bramson, 2001; Vanhuele, Desmet, Groenvynch, Rosseel, & Fontaine, 2008; Viljoen, Iverson, Griffiths, & Woodward, 2003).  Others include a cognitive-affective factor paired with a somatic factor (Patterson, Morasco, Fuller, Indest, Loftis, & Hauser, 2011; Siegert, Walkey, & Turner- Stokes, 2009; Storch, Roberti, & Roth, 2004; Whisman, Perez, & Ramel, 2000).  In one study, Wilson VanVoorhis and Blumentritt (2007) found a cognitive-somatic factor and an affective factor.  Still others follow a simple cognitive/somatic split (Grothe, Dutton, Jones, Bodenlos, Ancona, & Brantley, 2005; Palmer & Binks, 2008; Quilty, Zhang, & Bagby, 2010; Thombs, Ziegelstein, Beck, & Pilote, 2008), though one labels this differently as cognitive and non-cognitive (Steer, Ball, Ranieri, & Beck, 1999).
  8. 8. Proposed Factor Solutions  Three Factor:  There is some convergence around the idea of cognitive, affective, and somatic factors (Brouwer, Meijer, & Zevalkink, 2012; Johnson, Neal, Brems, & Fisher, 2006; Lindsay & Skene, 2007; Tully, Winefield, Baker, Turbull, & de Jonge, 2011; Vanhuele, et al., 2008).  Byrne, et al. (2007) suggests negative attitude, performance difficulty, and somatic elements, though the items on the factors deviate only somewhat from other solutions interpreted as cognitive, affective, and somatic.  Chilcot, Norton, Wellsted, Almond, Davenport, and Farrington (2011) suggest a cognitive, self-criticism, and anhedonia solution that differs substantially from other solutions.  Lopez, Pierce, Gardner, and Hanson (2012) found a three factor solution interpreted as negative rumination, somatic complaints, and mood that also differs from the other three factor solutions in general structure of the items.
  9. 9. Proposed Factor Solutions  Hierarchical and General Factor Solutions:  In general factor solutions, the researchers add an additional factor for “depression” onto which all items individually load.  In hierarchical solutions, the researchers add an additional factor for “depression” onto which all first-order factors load.  Both Quilty, Zhang, and Bagby (2010) and Thombs, et al. (2008) found the best fit with a general depression factor onto which all items load in their two-factor solutions, as did Chilcot, et al. (2011) with a three-factor solution plus the general factor.  Byrne, et al. (2007) has suggested a hierarchical solution on top of the three-factor model, while Grothe, et al. (2005) has suggested likewise on the two-factor model.
  10. 10. Population Dependence  It has been suggested by some that the structure of the BDI-II varies by population.  However, a population dependent structure is less useful for diagnostic purposes.  For example, it has been suggested that the instrument has different structures in depressed and non-depressed populations. How then would it be useful in determining which population one belongs to?
  11. 11. Data Sources  Data were collected from published factor analyses of the BDI-II that included an inter-item correlation matrix.  Additionally, authors of other factor analytic work with the BDI-II were contacted and asked for copies of the inter- item correlation matrix with standard deviations.  In total, 10 studies were included in the final data set.  Although these studies include samples with varied characteristics, they are combined in this case in an attempt to approach the population as a whole, rather than any subset thereof.  As a result, for this study, the “population” is thought of as all individuals who may be assessed with the BDI-II, both depressed and not depressed, of all age groups, and all ethnicities.
  12. 12. Data Sources
  13. 13. Combined Variance/Covariance Matrix
  14. 14. Results Model χ2 df χ2/df CFI TLI RMSEA SRMR Two-Factors Arnau, et al. 2674.71 169 15.83 .92 .91 .05 .04 Palmer, et al. 3048.51 169 18.04 .91 .90 .06 .04 Patterson, et al. 540.84 34 15.91 .97 .96 .06 .04 Siegert, et al. 2643.12 151 17.50 .92 .91 .06 .04 Storch, et al. 3500.65 188 18.62 .90 .89 .06 .04 Viljoen, et al. 2547.39 151 16.87 .92 .91 .06 .04 Whisman, et al. 3056.69 169 18.09 .91 .90 .06 .04 Wilson VanVoorhis, et al. 3833.61 169 22.68 .88 .87 .07 .05 Vanhuele, et al. 1216.50 103 11.81 .95 .94 .05 .03
  15. 15. Model χ2 df χ2/df CFI TLI RMSEA SRMRThree-Factors Brouwer, et al. 2664.48 186 14.33 .93 .92 .05 .04 Byrne, et al. 2168.77 167 12.99 .94 .93 .05 .04 Johnson, et al. 2475.15 186 13.31 .93 .93 .05 .04 Lindsay, et al. 2238.11 132 16.96 .93 .91 .06 .04 Lopez, et al. 1911.06 116 16.48 .94 .92 .06 .04 Vanhuele, et al. 770.56 87 8.86 .97 .96 .04 .03 H&GFactors Byrne, et al. (H) 2168.77 167 12.99 .94 .93 .05 .04 Chilcot, et al. (G) 2441.18 179 13.64 .93 .92 .05 .04 Grothe, et al. (H) 2859.01 188 15.21 .92 .91 .05 .04 Quilty, et al. (G) 1760.25 176 10.00 .95 .95 .04 .03 Steer, et al. (H) 1855.40 188 15.19 .92 .91 .05 .04 Thombs, et al. (G) 1605.88 173 9.28 .96 .95 .04 .03
  16. 16. Discussion  The BDI-II seemed to fit relatively well in several models, with the exception of the chi-square to degrees of freedom ratio.  Although recommended cutoffs for this ratio are much lower than values obtained in these models, there are a number of possible explanations for these high values.  For example, Hammervold & Olsson (2012) found that even slightly misspecified models were highly likely to be rejected in the chi- square test, even with extremely large sample sizes.  Given the controversy surrounding the BDI-II and the idea that its structure may be sample-dependent, it is likely that each model is slightly misspecified in a sense.  On the other hand, reliable models also tend to produce larger chi- square values in very large samples, according to simulation studies by Miles and Shevlin (2007).  In other words, it may be that the large chi-square to degrees of freedom ratios in this case are misleading.
  17. 17. Discussion  In the case that one would choose to view the large chi- square to degrees of freedom ratios as artifacts of the large sample and the measurement properties of the BDI-II, the picture becomes even more troubling.  It would appear that just about any published model (with the exception of the Wilson VanVoorhis, et al. [2007] model) fits relatively well.  Obviously some models fit better than others, but there is not adequate evidence to suggest that there is one true and superior model at the population level for the BDI-II from an empirical standpoint, at least in terms of model fit.
  18. 18. Discussion  However, in general, the hierarchical and general factor models did not seem to offer much in terms of fit.  One notable exception is the Thombs, et al. (2008) model. This model had very good fit, and one of the lowest chi-square to degrees of freedom ratios overall.  Moreover, it does appear that the current research supports the assertions of Byrne, et al. (2007), Ward (2006), and others, who have argued strongly for the superiority of three-factor solutions. It is worth noting that the advantage in fit for three-factor models was significant, but slight.
  19. 19. Discussion  Additionally, because the difference in fit is so slight in many cases, researcher may consider straying away from structures that deviate heavily from the BDI-II’s original scoring or administration.  For example, Chilcot, et al. (2011) and Patterson, et al. (2011) each use less than half of the original items.  Given that the BDI-II is a commercial instrument unlikely to change its item content to match factor analytic work (particularly if that work is not in the majority) it may be more useful to explore structures that are more practically relevant by using the entire (or close to the entire) instrument, and focusing on structures that provide information relevant to clinicians.  Particularly with instruments like the BDI-II that are in constant use for diagnosis and patient care, it may be meaningful to focus on instrument structures that are focused on such issues, especially given the very slight differences in fit for most models.
  20. 20. Discussion  The suitability of different models cannot be finally resolved wholly through empirical means such as confirmatory factor analysis, however.  Future researchers may wish to focus on theoretical and practical advantages that particular models offer.  Additionally, empirical studies of construct validity for particular models, especially for predictive validity, will be an important next step in evaluating alternative structures.  While large-scale confirmatory factor analysis offers insight into the scale’s structure, these practical steps are necessary to decide on the appropriate structure for practical, clinical use.
  21. 21. Discussion - Method  The primary purpose of this study was to serve as a demonstration of a method for assessing instrument structure across multiple samples.  This method has clear advantages – a side-by-side comparison of many published factor models can be created among shared data.  This puts the models on equal ground, and gives a large, varied data set on which to test the fit of those models.  In addition, no estimation is involved in the process of creating the combined variance/covariance matrix so researchers using this method can have increased confidence in the analyses they conduct with such calculated matrices over estimated matrices.
  22. 22. Discussion - Method  A potential limitation is the use of disparate samples in creating the combined covariance matrix.  Each has very different sample characteristics, which has one of two possible outcomes:  First, it may result in a closer approximation of the population matrix. However, it may also result in a highly variable matrix that includes more than one population.  That is, these disparate samples may actually represent multiple populations.  Future research may focus on the suitability of covariance matrices for combination, and the implications of combining or not combining matrices on how the population is theoretically constructed.
  23. 23. Discussion - Method  This method for testing instrument structure across multiple samples may be useful in any case where there are multiple factor analytic studies with conflicting results.  This is particularly important to consider when the instrument in question has, as the BDI-II, practical implications for health, education, policy, or other areas with implications for the people who will be measured using the instrument.  In such cases, understanding the structure of the instrument takes on an added importance and value, and having an additional tool for assessing structure in the population may prove extremely useful.
  24. 24. For a list of references, a copy of the finished paper, or additional information, please contact: