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Psychiatry Res. 2002 Jul 31;110(3):281-9.

Race/ethnicity and depressive symptoms in community-dwelling young adults: a differential item functioning analysis.

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  • 1Division of Health Science, University of East Asia, 2-1 Ichinomiya-Gakuencho, Shimonoseki 751-8503, Japan.


To examine variations in the manifestation of depressive symptomatology across racial/ethnic groups, analyses of differential item functioning (DIF) on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) were separately conducted for representative samples of young adults in the following groups: African-Americans (n = 434), Hispanics born in the US (n = 493), and Hispanics born outside the US (n = 395). Non-Hispanic whites (n = 463) were employed as the reference group in all analyses. The effects of gender and age were controlled. DIF analyses indicated that: (1) about half of the CES-D items functioned differently among non-Hispanic whites compared to each of the other racial/ethnic groups; (2) the manifestation of symptoms seemed to be similar for both Hispanic groups, except for low positive affect; (3) African-Americans tended to favor somatic symptoms over affective (depressive) symptoms; (4) Immigrant Hispanics appeared to inhibit the expression of positive affect, and thus more high scorers on the total CES-D were observed within this subgroup. In contrast, no differences were observed when only negative items were considered. The use of positive affect items might artifactually induce spurious differences among people who were born outside the United States or North America.

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