Adolescent Research Review

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 357–368 | Cite as

Measuring Repression in Residential Youth Care: Conceptualization, Development and Validation of the Institutional Repression Questionnaire

  • S. de ValkEmail author
  • C. Kuiper
  • G. H. P. van der Helm
  • A. J. J. A. Maas
  • G. J. J. M. Stams
Quantitative Review


Repression in residential youth care institutions threatens youth’s positive development. When youth experience arbitrary use of power, structure, or coercion, this may cause demotivation, reactance or aggression, and diminished chances of rehabilitation in youth. Because institutional repression may be hard to recognize, a valid and reliable measurement instrument is necessary to signal repression in residential institutions. This article outlines the conceptualization, development and validation of the Institutional Repression Questionnaire in a sample of 180 youth (aged 12–24, 32% female) staying in open, secure, and forensic residential youth care institutions. The Institutional Repression Questionnaire is a self-report questionnaire, designed to measure five dimensions of repression: abuse of power, injustice, lack of autonomy, lack of meaning, and dehumanization. The multicomponent structure was confirmed in a confirmatory factor analysis, resulting in 24 items in five subscales: Abuse of Power, Justice, Lack of Autonomy, Meaning, and Humanization. One open-ended question is part of the questionnaire to invite youth to disclose more extreme cases of repression. Convergent validity was established via correlations between the Institutional Repression Questionnaire and the Prison Group Climate Inventory—as a measure of living group climate in residential institutions—and the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction and Frustration Scale-Intellectual Disability—as a measure of self-determination. The five Institutional Repression Questionnaire subscales demonstrated good internal consistency. The study provides preliminary evidence to support validity and reliability of an adolescent self-report questionnaire of perceived institutional repression as a multidimensional construct. Residential youth care institutions can use outcomes of the Institutional Repression Questionnaire to improve their living group climate.


Residential institutions Youth care Repression Questionnaire development Psychometric properties 



The authors would like to thank all the youths for their willingness to fill in the questionnaires and the research group Residential Youth Care of the University of Applied Sciences in Leiden for their support in obtaining the questionnaires.

Author Contributions

SdV conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the statistical analysis, interpreted the results and drafted the manuscript; CK conceived of the study, participated in the coordination and in the interpretation of the results, helped to draft the manuscript and critically reviewed the manuscript; PvdH conceived of the study, helped to draft the manuscript and critically reviewed the implications; AM conceived of the study, critically reviewed the study design and organizational implications; GS conceived of the study, performed the statistical analysis, participated in the interpretation of the results, and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was made possible by the support of the Reformed Civil Orphanage (in Dutch: Gereformeerd Burger Weeshuis), Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare to have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Knowledge and Consultancy CentreGoudaThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Leiden (Youth Expert Centre) and Horizon Youth Care and EducationUniversity of Applied SciencesRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Leiden (Youth Expert Centre)University of Applied SciencesLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Organization and Personnel ManagementErasmus University, RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Forensic Child and Youth Care SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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