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Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Mar 1;175(5):391-401. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr287. Epub 2012 Feb 3.

Racial/ethnic differences in responses to the everyday discrimination scale: a differential item functioning analysis.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The authors examined the impact of race/ethnicity on responses to the Everyday Discrimination Scale, one of the most widely used discrimination scales in epidemiologic and public health research. Participants were 3,295 middle-aged US women (African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese) from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) baseline examination (1996-1997). Multiple-indicator, multiple-cause models were used to examine differential item functioning (DIF) on the Everyday Discrimination Scale by race/ethnicity. After adjustment for age, education, and language of interview, meaningful DIF was observed for 3 (out of 10) items: "receiving poorer service in restaurants or stores," "being treated as if you are dishonest," and "being treated with less courtesy than other people" (all P's < 0.001). Consequently, the "profile" of everyday discrimination differed slightly for women of different racial/ethnic groups, with certain "public" experiences appearing to have more salience for African-American and Chinese women and "dishonesty" having more salience for racial/ethnic minority women overall. "Courtesy" appeared to have more salience for Hispanic women only in comparison with African-American women. Findings suggest that the Everyday Discrimination Scale could potentially be used across racial/ethnic groups as originally intended. However, researchers should use caution with items that demonstrated DIF.

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