This study compares item reduction analysis based on classical test theory (maximizing Cronbach's alpha - approach A), with analysis based on the Rasch Partial Credit Model item-fit (approach B), as applied to children and adolescents' health-related quality of life (HRQoL) items. The reliability and structural, cross-cultural and known-group validity of the measures were examined.
Within the European KIDSCREEN project, 3019 children and adolescents (8-18 years) from seven European countries answered 19 HRQoL items of the Physical Well-being dimension of a preliminary KIDSCREEN instrument. The Cronbach's alpha and corrected item total correlation (approach A) were compared with infit mean squares and the Q-index item-fit derived according to a partial credit model (approach B). Cross-cultural differential item functioning (DIF ordinal logistic regression approach), structural validity (confirmatory factor analysis and residual correlation) and relative validity (RV) for socio-demographic and health-related factors were calculated for approaches (A) and (B).
Approach (A) led to the retention of 13 items, compared with 11 items with approach (B). The item overlap was 69% for (A) and 78% for (B). The correlation coefficient of the summated ratings was 0.93. The Cronbach's alpha was similar for both versions [0.86 (A); 0.85 (B)]. Both approaches selected some items that are not strictly unidimensional and items displaying DIF. RV ratios favoured (A) with regard to socio-demographic aspects. Approach (B) was superior in RV with regard to health-related aspects.
Both types of item reduction analysis should be accompanied by additional analyses. Neither of the two approaches was universally superior with regard to cultural, structural and known-group validity. However, the results support the usability of the Rasch method for developing new HRQoL measures for children and adolescents.