Assessment of differential item functioning in the experiences of discrimination index: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



African Americans; European Continental Ancestry Group; Female; Humans; Male; *Prejudice; Prospective Studies; *Psychometrics; Sex Factors




The psychometric properties of instruments used to measure self-reported experiences of discrimination in epidemiologic studies are rarely assessed, especially regarding construct validity. The authors used 2000-2001 data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study to examine differential item functioning (DIF) in 2 versions of the Experiences of Discrimination (EOD) Index, an index measuring self-reported experiences of racial/ethnic and gender discrimination. DIF may confound interpretation of subgroup differences. Large DIF was observed for 2 of 7 racial/ethnic discrimination items: White participants reported more racial/ethnic discrimination for the "at school" item, and black participants reported more racial/ethnic discrimination for the "getting housing" item. The large DIF by race/ethnicity in the index for racial/ethnic discrimination probably reflects item impact and is the result of valid group differences between blacks and whites regarding their respective experiences of discrimination. The authors also observed large DIF by race/ethnicity for 3 of 7 gender discrimination items. This is more likely to have been due to item bias. Users of the EOD Index must consider the advantages and disadvantages of DIF adjustment (omitting items, constructing separate measures, and retaining items). The EOD Index has substantial usefulness as an instrument that can assess self-reported experiences of discrimination.


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DOI of Published Version



Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Dec 1;174(11):1266-74. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr253. Epub 2011 Oct 29.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of epidemiology

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID