Psychometric properties of four anxiety measures in older adults


Despite relatively high prevalence rates of anxiety disorders in older adults, little attention has been paid to the establishment of psychometrically sound measures for this population. The current study addresses this issue by examining the psychometric properties of four self-report anxiety measures: the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Worry Scale (WS), Fear Questionnaire (FQ), and Padua Inventory (PI). Two older adult community subsamples were assessed, one with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD; n = 50) and the other with no anxiety complaints (Normal Controls: NC; n = 94). Descriptive data revealed that mean scores in the GAD sample were similar to those reported in studies of younger GAD patients. Mean scores in the NC sample, however, were lower than those reported in studies of younger control samples. Internal consistency for all measures generally was adequate in both the GAD and NC subsamples, although alpha coefficients for two of the FQ subscales were marginal. Test-retest reliability over a 2-4 week interval (assessed in a subgroup of NC subjects) was mixed, with some measures apparently assessing stable, trait-like dimensions of fear and anxiety, and others estimating more state-like clinical features. Intercorrelations among subscales for all four measures in both the GAD and NC groups generally were high and consistent with findings from prior research. Finally, some support for the convergent validity of the four anxiety measures was obtained, particularly in the NC sample. Results are discussed in terms of the utility of these instruments for future investigations of the psychopathology and treatment of anxiety disorders in the elderly.

Publication Title

Behaviour Research and Therapy