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Factorial validity of the 12-item general health questionnaire in patients with psychological disorders

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The 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) is a self-reporting instrument to assess mental health. The present study was aimed to explore the optimal factor model of the Chinese version of the GHQ-12 in patients with psychological disorders, and examine its measurement invariance across gender. A total of 870 outpatients completed the GHQ-12. Among them, 361 patients also completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was adopted to assess the fit of two models of the GHQ-12. Multi-group confirmatory factor analysis (MGCFA) was performed to verify the measurement invariance of the GHQ-12 across gender. The Cronbach’s α coefficients, McDonald’s omega coefficients (ω), and mean inter-item correlations (MIC) were calculated to investigate the internal reliability of the GHQ-12. Pearson correlations between GHQ-12 and CES-D/SAS were performed to examine the convergent construct validity. The results showed that the 3-factor model of the GHQ-12 fitted the data better than the 2-factor model, and the 3-factor model of the GHQ-12 was measurement invariant across gender. The Cronbach’s α coefficients of the GHQ-12 and its factors ranged from 0.63 to 0.83, ω ranged from 0.80 to 0.90, and MIC ranged from 0.28 to 0.46. The scores of the GHQ-12 and its factors had significantly positive correlations with scores of CES-D and SAS. In conclusion, the good factorial validity and reliability of the Chinese version of the GHQ-12 supported its application in evaluating the general mental health of patients in clinical context.

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Data availability

Data and material that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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We are grateful to all subjects for their participation.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 81871074].

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Jinyao Yi and Mingtian Zhong were involved in the design of the study and revised new drafts from co-authors. Zhaoxia Liu and Chang Xi participated in the design, performed the analysis and wrote the first manuscript drafting. Wanrong Peng, Qian Liu, Jun Chu and Kaili Zheng were responsible for data collection and analyses. All authors have read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jinyao Yi.

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Zhaoxia Liu and Chang Xi are co-first authors.

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Liu, Z., Xi, C., Zhong, M. et al. Factorial validity of the 12-item general health questionnaire in patients with psychological disorders. Curr Psychol 42, 18133–18141 (2023).

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