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Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1186/S13229-021-00427-9

Improving the measurement of alexithymia in autistic adults: a psychometric investigation and refinement of the twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale.

02 Mar 2021-Molecular Autism (BioMed Central)-Vol. 12, Iss: 1, pp 20-20
Abstract: Alexithymia, a personality trait characterized by difficulties interpreting one’s own emotional states, is commonly elevated in autistic adults, and a growing body of literature suggests that this trait underlies a number of cognitive and emotional differences previously attributed to autism, such as difficulties in facial emotion recognition and reduced empathy. Although questionnaires such as the twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) are frequently used to measure alexithymia in the autistic population, few studies have attempted to determine the psychometric properties of these questionnaires in autistic adults, including whether differential item functioning (I-DIF) exists between autistic and general population adults. We conducted an in-depth psychometric analysis of the TAS-20 in a large sample of 743 verbal autistic adults recruited from the Simons Foundation SPARK participant pool and 721 general population controls enrolled in a large international psychological study (the Human Penguin Project). The factor structure of the TAS-20 was examined using confirmatory factor analysis, and item response theory was used to further refine the scale based on local model misfit and I-DIF between the groups. Correlations between alexithymia and other clinical outcomes such as autistic traits, anxiety, and quality-of-life were used to assess the nomological validity of the revised alexithymia scale in the SPARK sample. The TAS-20 did not exhibit adequate global model fit in either the autistic or general population samples. Empirically driven item reduction was undertaken, resulting in an eight-item unidimensional scale (TAS-8) with sound psychometric properties and practically ignorable I-DIF between diagnostic groups. Correlational analyses indicated that TAS-8 scores meaningfully predict autistic trait levels, anxiety and depression symptoms, and quality of life, even after controlling for trait neuroticism. Limitations of the current study include a sample of autistic adults that was overwhelmingly female, later-diagnosed, and well-educated; clinical and control groups drawn from different studies with variable measures; and an inability to test several other important psychometric characteristics of the TAS-8, including sensitivity to change and I-DIF across multiple administrations. These results indicate the potential of the TAS-8 as a psychometrically robust tool to measure alexithymia in both autistic and non-autistic adults. A free online score calculator has been created to facilitate the use of norm-referenced TAS-8 latent trait scores in research applications (available at http://asdmeasures.shinyapps.io/TAS8_Score ).

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Topics: Toronto Alexithymia Scale (67%), Alexithymia (66%), Psychometrics (54%) ... show more
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Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1002/AUR.2519
19 Apr 2021-Autism Research
Abstract: Although many interventions and services for autistic people have the ultimate goal of improving quality of life (QoL), there is relatively little research on how best to assess this construct in the autistic population, and existing scales designed for non-autistic individuals may not assess all meaningful facets of QoL in the autistic population. To address this need, the autism spectrum QoL form (ASQoL) was recently developed as a measure of the autism-relevant quality of life. However, the psychometrics of the ASQoL have not been examined beyond the authors' initial validation study, and important properties such as measurement invariance/differential item functioning (DIF) have not yet been tested. Using data from 700 autistic adults recruited from the Simons Foundation's SPARK cohort, the current study sought to perform a comprehensive independent psychometric evaluation of the ASQoL using item response theory, comparing its performance to a newly-proposed brief measure of general QoL (the WHOQOL-4). Our models revealed substantial DIF by sex and gender in the ASQoL, which caused ASQoL scores to grossly underestimate the self-reported QoL of autistic women. Based on a comparison of latent variable means, we demonstrated that observed sex/gender differences in manifest ASQoL scores were the result of statistical artifacts, a claim that was further supported by the lack of significant group differences on the sex/gender-invariant WHOQOL-4. Our findings indicate that the ASQoL composite score is psychometrically problematic in its current form, and substantial revisions may be necessary before valid and meaningful inferences can be made regarding autism-relevant aspects of QoL. LAY SUMMARY: Quality of life (QoL) is an extremely important outcome for autistic people, but many of the tools that are used to measure it does not take into account how QoL may be different for autistic people. Using data from 700 autistic adults, we examined the measurement properties of the autism spectrum quality of life form (ASQoL), a new measure of QoL designed specifically for autistic people. Our results indicate that the ASQoL shows a pronounced sex/gender bias, which causes it to underestimate QoL in autistic women. This bias needs to be eliminated before the ASQoL can be successfully used to measure QoL in the autistic population.

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Topics: Quality of life (53%), Differential item functioning (53%), Population (52%) ... show more

3 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1186/S13229-021-00440-Y
07 Jun 2021-Molecular Autism
Abstract: Background Individuals on the autism spectrum are reported to display alterations in interoception, the sense of the internal state of the body. The Interoception Sensory Questionnaire (ISQ) is a 20-item self-report measure of interoception specifically intended to measure this construct in autistic people. The psychometrics of the ISQ, however, have not previously been evaluated in a large sample of autistic individuals. Methods Using confirmatory factor analysis, we evaluated the latent structure of the ISQ in a large online sample of adults on the autism spectrum and found that the unidimensional model fit the data poorly. Using misspecification analysis to identify areas of local misfit and item response theory to investigate the appropriateness of the seven-point response scale, we removed redundant items and collapsed the response options to put forth a novel eight-item, five-response choice ISQ. Results The revised, five-response choice ISQ (ISQ-8) showed much improved fit while maintaining high internal reliability. Differential item functioning (DIF) analyses indicated that the items of the ISQ-8 were answered in comparable ways by autistic adolescents and adults and across multiple other sociodemographic groups. Limitations Our results were limited by the fact that we did not collect data for typically developing controls, preventing the analysis of DIF by diagnostic status. Additionally, while this study proposes a new 5-response scale for the ISQ-8, our data were not collected using this method; thus, the psychometric properties for the revised version of this instrument require further investigation. Conclusion The ISQ-8 shows promise as a reliable and valid measure of interoception in adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum, but additional work is needed to examine its psychometrics in this population. A free online score calculator has been created to facilitate the use of ISQ-8 latent trait scores for further studies of autistic adolescents and adults (available at https://asdmeasures.shinyapps.io/ISQ_score/ ).

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Topics: Differential item functioning (54%), Item response theory (53%), Interoception (52%) ... show more

2 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1177/10731911211033894
26 Jul 2021-Assessment
Abstract: Alexithymia is defined as the inability of persons to describe their emotional states, to identify the feelings of others, and a utilitarian type of thinking. The most popular instrument to assess ...

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1 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1016/J.RASD.2021.101887
David Mason1, Francesca Happé1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Background Autistic people tend to report poorer Quality of Life (QOL) than comparison groups, though some studies do report more optimistic findings. Higher autistic traits are also related to poorer QOL. However, the role of alexithymia in this relationship has not been explored. Method A total of 163 participants (N = 53 autistic and N = 111 comparison) consented to take part; however, 30 participants were excluded due to missing data (who did not differ from those who were retained on age, gender, education, employment, or living status), leaving a final sample of 133 (N = 42 Autistic and 91 Comparison participants). Demographic information (including age, gender) was collected, alongside self-report measures of autistic traits, mental health, alexithymia, and QOL. We estimated regression models based on pre-registered analysis, and we conducted exploratory network analyses. Results Alexithymic traits did not predict QOL when controlling for covariates. Depression significantly predicted Physical, Psychological, and Social QOL. When examining the impact of just alexithymic traits and autistic traits, both were significantly associated with Physical and Psychological QOL. For participants with a low depression score, the correlation between alexithymia and QOL was strong; suggesting that depression occludes the association between alexithymia and QOL. Network analyses suggested that depression and anxiety exert direct effects on Physical and Psychological QOL, whereas alexithymia scores may influence Physical QOL via autistic traits. Conclusion In sum, depression is a pervasive negative predictor of multiple QOL domains. The role of alexithymia in predicting QOL dimensionally and categorically was not ruled out, given our exploratory analyses, we suggest that interventions which target alexithymia may positively impact QOL for those who score low on depressive symptoms.

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Topics: Alexithymia (63%), Quality of life (56%)

Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41598-021-98516-5
30 Sep 2021-Scientific Reports
Abstract: Although empathy impairments have been reported in autistic individuals, there is no clear consensus on how emotional valence influences this multidimensional process. In this study, we use the Multifaceted Empathy Test for juveniles (MET-J) to interrogate emotional and cognitive empathy in 184 participants (ages 8–59 years, 83 autistic) under the robust Bayesian inference framework. Group comparisons demonstrate previously unreported interaction effects between: (1) valence and autism diagnosis in predictions of emotional resonance, and (2) valence and age group in predictions of arousal to images portraying positive and negative facial expressions. These results extend previous studies using the MET by examining differential effects of emotional valence in a large sample of autistic children and adults with average or above-average intelligence. We report impaired cognitive empathy in autism, and subtle differences in emotional empathy characterized by less distinction between emotional resonance to positive vs. negative facial expressions in autism compared to neurotypicals. Reduced emotional differentiation between positive and negative affect in others could be a mechanism for diminished social reciprocity that poses a universal challenge for people with autism. These component- and valence- specific findings are of clinical relevance for the development and implementation of target-specific social interventions in autism.

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Topics: Empathy (66%), Autism (62%), Valence (psychology) (54%) ... show more

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169 results found


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1111/J.2517-6161.1995.TB02031.X
Abstract: SUMMARY The common approach to the multiplicity problem calls for controlling the familywise error rate (FWER). This approach, though, has faults, and we point out a few. A different approach to problems of multiple significance testing is presented. It calls for controlling the expected proportion of falsely rejected hypotheses -the false discovery rate. This error rate is equivalent to the FWER when all hypotheses are true but is smaller otherwise. Therefore, in problems where the control of the false discovery rate rather than that of the FWER is desired, there is potential for a gain in power. A simple sequential Bonferronitype procedure is proved to control the false discovery rate for independent test statistics, and a simulation study shows that the gain in power is substantial. The use of the new procedure and the appropriateness of the criterion are illustrated with examples.

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Topics: False discovery rate (72%), Per-comparison error rate (66%), False coverage rate (63%) ... show more

71,936 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1080/10705519909540118
Li-tze Hu, Peter M. Bentler1Institutions (1)
Abstract: This article examines the adequacy of the “rules of thumb” conventional cutoff criteria and several new alternatives for various fit indexes used to evaluate model fit in practice. Using a 2‐index presentation strategy, which includes using the maximum likelihood (ML)‐based standardized root mean squared residual (SRMR) and supplementing it with either Tucker‐Lewis Index (TLI), Bollen's (1989) Fit Index (BL89), Relative Noncentrality Index (RNI), Comparative Fit Index (CFI), Gamma Hat, McDonald's Centrality Index (Mc), or root mean squared error of approximation (RMSEA), various combinations of cutoff values from selected ranges of cutoff criteria for the ML‐based SRMR and a given supplemental fit index were used to calculate rejection rates for various types of true‐population and misspecified models; that is, models with misspecified factor covariance(s) and models with misspecified factor loading(s). The results suggest that, for the ML method, a cutoff value close to .95 for TLI, BL89, CFI, RNI, and G...

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Topics: Cutoff (52%), Goodness of fit (51%)

63,509 Citations


Open accessBook
Rex B. Kline1Institutions (1)
27 May 1998-
Abstract: Designed for students and researchers without an extensive quantitative background, this book offers an informative guide to the application, interpretation and pitfalls of structural equation modelling (SEM) in the social sciences. The book covers introductory techniques including path analysis and confirmatory factor analysis, and provides an overview of more advanced methods such as the evaluation of non-linear effects, the analysis of means in convariance structure models, and latent growth models for longitudinal data. Providing examples from various disciplines to illustrate all aspects of SEM, the book offers clear instructions on the preparation and screening of data, common mistakes to avoid and widely used software programs (Amos, EQS and LISREL). The book aims to provide the skills necessary to begin to use SEM in research and to interpret and critique the use of method by others.

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38,513 Citations


Journal ArticleDOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.238
Peter M. Bentler1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Normed and nonnormed fit indexes are frequently used as adjuncts to chi-square statistics for evaluating the fit of a structural model A drawback of existing indexes is that they estimate no known population parameters A new coefficient is proposed to summarize the relative reduction in the noncentrality parameters of two nested models Two estimators of the coefficient yield new normed (CFI) and nonnormed (FI) fit indexes CFI avoids the underestimation of fit often noted in small samples for Bentler and Bonett's (1980) normed fit index (NFI) FI is a linear function of Bentler and Bonett's non-normed fit index (NNFI) that avoids the extreme underestimation and overestimation often found in NNFI Asymptotically, CFI, FI, NFI, and a new index developed by Bollen are equivalent measures of comparative fit, whereas NNFI measures relative fit by comparing noncentrality per degree of freedom All of the indexes are generalized to permit use of Wald and Lagrange multiplier statistics An example illustrates the behavior of these indexes under conditions of correct specification and misspecification The new fit indexes perform very well at all sample sizes

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Topics: Goodness of fit (55%), Population (51%)

19,626 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1001/ARCHINTE.166.10.1092
Abstract: Background Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental disorders; however, there is no brief clinical measure for assessing GAD. The objective of this study was to develop a brief self-report scale to identify probable cases of GAD and evaluate its reliability and validity. Methods A criterion-standard study was performed in 15 primary care clinics in the United States from November 2004 through June 2005. Of a total of 2740 adult patients completing a study questionnaire, 965 patients had a telephone interview with a mental health professional within 1 week. For criterion and construct validity, GAD self-report scale diagnoses were compared with independent diagnoses made by mental health professionals; functional status measures; disability days; and health care use. Results A 7-item anxiety scale (GAD-7) had good reliability, as well as criterion, construct, factorial, and procedural validity. A cut point was identified that optimized sensitivity (89%) and specificity (82%). Increasing scores on the scale were strongly associated with multiple domains of functional impairment (all 6 Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey scales and disability days). Although GAD and depression symptoms frequently co-occurred, factor analysis confirmed them as distinct dimensions. Moreover, GAD and depression symptoms had differing but independent effects on functional impairment and disability. There was good agreement between self-report and interviewer-administered versions of the scale. Conclusion The GAD-7 is a valid and efficient tool for screening for GAD and assessing its severity in clinical practice and research.

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9,723 Citations