Assessing functional impairment in university students seeking psychological help: a psychometric study of the Portuguese Work and Social Adjustment Scale

Sofia Caetano, Marisa Marques, Ana Carvalhal de Melo, Andreia Ferreira, Sandra Xavier, António Queirós, Maria João Martins

Abstract

Background: It has been advocated that higher education settings should promote a supportive environment devoted to improving several dimensions of the well-being of their communities. Assessing functional impairment is of utmost importance, particularly in clinical services.

Goals: The present study aimed at analyzing factor structure and psychometric properties of the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS), a 5-item scale developed to assess the patient’s perceived functional impairment resulting from a health problem in five dimensions: work, social leisure activities, private leisure activities, and relationships with others.

Methods: A non-probabilistic sample of university students who sought mental health support answered a set of self-report questionnaires, including the WSAS and measures of anxiety, depression, and quality of life.

Results: Overall, 207 university students participated in the study (22 years old of mean age; 74,9% female and 69,2% undergraduate). Confirmatory factor analysis indicated an adequate fit to the single-factor structure, and the scale presented very good reliability. Concurrent, convergent, and incremental validity were also found, and the WSAS differentiated groups with different levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Discussion: Overall, our results corroborate that WSAS is a brief, reliable, and valid measure, and, therefore, useful in research and clinical settings. Further research is needed, particularly regarding temporal stability, discriminative power between clinical and nonclinical populations, and clinical samples between different diagnoses.

Keywords

Psychosocial adjustment; Psychometric properties; Factor analysis; University community

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33525/pprj.v7i1.136

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