Harmonizing Measures of Cognitive Performance Across International Surveys of Aging Using Item Response Theory

Kitty S. Chan, Alden L. Gross, Liliana E. Pezzin, Jason Brandt, Judith D. Kasper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To harmonize measures of cognitive performance using item response theory (IRT) across two international aging studies. Method: Data for persons ≥65 years from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS, N = 9,471) and the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA, N = 5,444). Cognitive performance measures varied (HRS fielded 25, ELSA 13); 9 were in common. Measurement precision was examined for IRT scores based on (a) common items, (b) common items adjusted for differential item functioning (DIF), and (c) DIF-adjusted all items. Results: Three common items (day of date, immediate word recall, and delayed word recall) demonstrated DIF by survey. Adding survey-specific items improved precision but mainly for HRS respondents at lower cognitive levels. Discussion: IRT offers a feasible strategy for harmonizing cognitive performance measures across other surveys and for other multi-item constructs of interest in studies of aging. Practical implications depend on sample distribution and the difficulty mix of in-common and survey-specific items.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1392-1414
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Volume27
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • cognitive performance
  • item response theory
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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