Background: Valid assessment of family functioning can play a vital role in optimizing client outcomes. Because family functioning is influenced by family structure, socioeconomic context, and culture, existing measures of family functioning—primarily developed with nuclear, middle-class European American families—may not be valid assessments of families in diverse populations. The Family Effectiveness Measure was developed to address this limitation.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to test the Family Effectiveness Measure with data from a primarily low-income African American convenience sample using the Rasch measurement model.
Methods: A sample of 607 adult women completed the measure. Rasch analysis was used to assess unidimensionality, response category functioning, item fit, person reliability, differential item functioning by race and parental status, and item hierarchy. Criterion-related validity was tested using correlations with five other variables related to family functioning.
Results: The Family Effectiveness Measure measures two separate constructs: The Effective Family Functioning construct was a psychometrically sound measure of the target construct that was more efficient because of the deletion of 22 items. The Ineffective Family Functioning construct consisted of 16 of those deleted items but was not as strong psychometrically. Items in both constructs evidenced no differential item functioning by race. Criterion-related validity was supported for both.
Discussion: In contrast to the prevailing conceptualization that family functioning is a single construct, assessed by positively and negatively worded items, use of the Rasch analysis suggested the existence of two constructs. Whereas the Effective Family Functioning scale is a strong and efficient measure of family functioning, the Ineffective Family Functioning scale will require additional item development and psychometric testing.