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Psychometrics Matter in Health Behavior: A Long-term Reliability Generalization Study

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Objectives: Despite numerous calls for increased understanding and reporting of reliability estimates, social science research, including the field of health behavior, has been slow to respond and adopt such practices. Therefore, we offer a brief overview of reliability and common reporting errors; we then perform analyses to examine and demonstrate the variability of reliability estimates by sample and over time. Methods: Using meta-analytic reliability generalization, we examined the variability of coefficient alpha scores for a well-designed, consistent, nationwide health study, covering a span of nearly 40 years. Results: For each year and sample, reliability varied. Furthermore, reliability was predicted by a sample characteristic that differed among age groups within each administration. Conclusions: We demonstrated that reliability is influenced by the methods and individuals from which a given sample is drawn. Our work echoes previous calls that psychometric properties, particularly reliability of scores, are important and must be considered and reported before drawing statistical conclusions.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, Division of Kinesiology and Sport Management, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD;, Email: [email protected] 2: Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 3: Associate Professor and Associate Department Head, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Publication date: September 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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