Exploring the factor analytic structure of the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) in a school-based sample of South African adolescents
Schickerling, Johannes Christiaan
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Despite the importance of anxiety measuring tools, there is no published data on the factor analytic structure of the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) in South African adolescents. The present study was an attempt to examine the factor structure of the MASC in South African adolescents, the factor structure equivalence for boys and girls and the correlation between MASC scores and scores on the Child Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Child PTSD Checklist Score, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to establish whether the MASC distinguishes between anxiety and other constructs. Available literature indicates that the MASC is invariant across gender and age and it shows excellent internal reliability and test-retest reliability (March Parker, Sullivan, Stallings & Comers, 1997). The MASC appears to measure separate dimensions of anxiety, which in turn makes it ideally suited to discriminate patterns of anxiety in children with anxiety disorders (Rynn et al., 2005). The MASC also correlates well with other measures of anxiety (Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale [RCMAS] and Screen of Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders [SCARED]), less so with measures of depression (Children's Depression Inventory [CDI]) and not at all with measures of disruptive behaviour (March et al., 1997; Muris, Merckelbach, Ollendick & King, 2002). Several studies across the world have confirmed the four-factor structure of the MASC and found its subscales to be reliable in several studies across the world (Olason, Sighvatsson & Smari, 2004; Rynn et al., 2005). A sample of 1078 grade 10 adolescents was selected to participate in this study. The adolescents were from nine different schools, representative of the socio-economic status and ethnic diversity of the region in the Cape Town metropole (South Africa). Principal Components Confirmatory Factor Analysis was conducted on MASC scores using a varimax rotation. Item bias analysis were used to determine gender equivalence and Pearson's correlation statistics were used to explore the correlation of MASC scores to CTQ, BDI, and Child PTSD Checklist scores. The results of the study confirm the MASC four-factor structure and its subscales were found to be reliable. The MASC performed the best out of four scales measuring anxiety or depression. Analysis showed that the four-factor structure applies equally well for males and females. Younger adolescents scored higher than older adolescents on the MASC total scale and no differences on the MASC total scale were found when comparisons of race were made. Item bias analysis showed no statistically or practically significant eta-squared (ŋ₂) value, indicating no gender bias. In general, results in this sample show that the characteristics of the MASC are similar to the original factor structure found by March et al. (1997). The MASC appears to measure separate dimensions of anxiety, which in turn should make it ideally suited to discriminate patterns of anxiety in subgroups of children with anxiety disorders. It can be concluded that the MASC shows to be a valid and reliable measure of anxiety for South African adolescents. It can be recommended that the MASC is a clinically useful and reliable self-report scale for assessing anxiety in children and adolescents.
- Health Sciences