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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;55(3):284-91. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12159. Epub 2013 Oct 25.

Parent and youth report of youth anxiety: evidence for measurement invariance.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.



We characterized parent-youth disagreement in their report on the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) and examined the equivalence of this measure across parent and youth report.


A clinically referred sample of 408 parent-youth dyads (M age youth = 14.33, SD = 1.89; 53.7% male; 50.0% Non-Hispanic White (NHW), 14.0% Hispanic, 29.7% African-American) completed the SCARED. We examined (a) differences between parents and youth in the total number of symptoms reported (difference scores) and in their ratings of specific symptoms (q correlations), (b) demographic factors associated with these indices, and (c) equivalence of the pattern and magnitude of factor loadings (i.e., configural and metric invariance), as well as item thresholds and residual variances, across informants.


The mean difference score was -2.13 (SD = 14.44), with youth reporting higher levels of symptoms, and the mean q correlation was .32 (SD = .24). Difference scores were greater for African-American dyads than NHW pairs. We found complete configural, metric, and residual invariance, and partial threshold invariance. Differences in thresholds did not appear to reflect systematic differences between parent and youth report. Findings were comparable when analyses were conducted separately for NHW and ethnic minority families.


Findings provide further evidence for the importance of considering youth report when evaluating anxiety in African-American families. The SCARED was invariant across informant reports, suggesting that it is appropriate to compare mean scores for these raters and that variability in parent and youth report is not attributable to their rating different constructs or using different thresholds to determine when symptoms are present.


Anxiety; informant disagreement; measurement

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