Testing the factor structure of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale in adolescents: A bi-factor modelling methodology

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Despite extensive use in mental health research and practice, limited evidence exists for the hypothesised unidimensional model of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale in adolescents. Few studies have assessed competing Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) models, and the instrument has yet to be assessed in younger adolescents in Northern Ireland, a jurisdiction characterised by high rates of mental illness.
Subject and methods
School pupils (n=1,673) aged 13-18 years (M = 14.87, SD = 1.16), including 1,036 females, 997 urban children, and 312 from lower socio-economic status, completed psychometric tests. Seven CFA models based on extant research were tested, including unidimensional, bi-factor, higher-order and clustered.
Several models, including the default unidimensional model, did not achieve recommended CFA fit thresholds. Model 6 comprising one strong ‘general well-being’ factor and three residual factors (i.e., figuratively labelled: ‘Affective’, ‘Psychological Functioning’ and ‘Social Relationships’) was confirmed as the superior model. Most item variance was explained by the general factor, relative to residual factors.
Adolescents predominantly conceptualise well-being as a unitary construct that coexists with relatively weak affective, psychological and social relationship domains. Researchers and practitioners should foremost calculate a composite score of well-being, and if appropriate, explore sub-domains to supplement understanding of adolescent well-being
Original languageEnglish
Article number113393
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry research
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Nov 2020


  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Mental health
  • Psychology
  • Validity
  • Well-being


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