Measuring the Bright Side of Being Blue: A New Tool for Assessing Analytical Rumination in Depression

Authors: Skye P. Barbic, Zachary Durisko and Paul W. Andrews

Background: Diagnosis and management of depression occurs frequently in the primary care setting. Current diagnostic and management of treatment practices across clinical populations focus on eliminating signs and symptoms of depression.  However, there is debate that some interventions may pathologize normal, adaptive responses to stressors. Analytical rumination (AR) is an example of an adaptive response of depression that is characterized by enhanced cognitive function to help an individual focus on, analyze, and solve problems. To date, research on AR has been hampered by the lack of theoretically-derived and psychometrically sound instruments. This study developed and tested a clinically meaningful measure of AR.  Methods: Using expert panels and an extensive literature review, we developed a conceptual framework for AR and 22 candidate items. Items were field tested to 579 young adults; 140 of whom completed the items at a second time point. We used Rasch measurement methods to construct and test the item set; and traditional psychometric analyses to compare items to existing rating scales.  Results: Data were high quality (<1% missing; high reliability: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92, test-retest intraclass correlations >0.81; evidence for divergent validity). Evidence of misfit for 2 items suggested that a 20-item scale with 4-point response categories best captured the concept of AR, fitting the Rasch model (x^2 = 95.26; df = 76, p = 0.07), with high reliability (rp = 0.86), ordered response scale structure, and no item bias (gender, age, time).  Conclusion: Our study provides evidence for a 20-item Analytical Rumination Questionnaire (ARQ) that can be used to quantify AR in adults who experience symptoms of depression. The ARQ is psychometrically robust and a clinically useful tool for the assessment and improvement of depression in the primary care setting. Future work is needed to establish the validity of this measure in people with major depression.

CitationBarbic, S. P., Durisko, Z., & Andrews, P. W. (2014).  Measuring the Bright Side of Being Blue: A New Tool for Assessign Analytical Rumination in Depression.  PLOS One, 9(11), e112077. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112077

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