Factor Viariation as a Function of Disaster Stress

August 1988 (VOL. 6, NO. 2)

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In an attempt to standardize the use of at least one particular test in studies of post-disaster stress, the factor structure of four forms of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist were examined by means of a new comparison technique on three sets of data. The outcome showed that only the shortest of the forms -- the HSCL-21-- had a robust three-factor structure in at least two out of the three data sets. The factors were identified as General Feelings of Distress (GFD), Somatic Distress (SD) and Performance Difficulty (PD). The aberrant set of data, which was obtained from a group under extreme stress at the time, was explained in terms of the anxiety, preoccupation and hyper-vigilance of the subjects. The same HSCL-21 also had a general factor that was identified as total distress in all three data sets. Consequently the HSCL-21 is to be recommended as a brief, useful, and factorially stable post-disaster assessment questionnaire.