Psychometric Properties of the Psychological Vulnerability Scale in Higher Education Students

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BACKGROUND: Psychological vulnerability is related to cognitive beliefs that reflect dependence on one’s sense of self-worth and to maladaptive functioning. It is a disadvantage that renders people less protected to face negative life experiences. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to adapt and test the psychometric properties of the Psychological Vulnerability Scale in a sample of 267 Portuguese higher education students. DESIGN: A psychometric study of the Psychological Vulnerability Scale, after translation into Portuguese, was performed with a convenience sample of higher education students. Participants were asked to fill in the sociodemographic questionnaire, the Psychological Vulnerability Scale, the Brief Symptom Inventory, and a one-item question about the Perception of Vulnerability. RESULTS: The mean age of the participants was 20.5 years (SD = 3.3). A factor analysis confirmed the original one-factor structure, explaining 42.9% of the total variance. The Psychological Vulnerability Scale showed adequate internal consistency and excellent test–retest stability. Convergent validity was confirmed by positive correlations with the Brief Symptom Inventory and Perception of Vulnerability. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the Psychological Vulnerability Scale showed good validity, reliability, and stability over time. The Psychological Vulnerability Scale is now ready to be used by practitioners and researchers to measure the psychological vulnerability among Portuguese higher education students. These data add to the body of knowledge of psychiatric and mental health nursing and provides support for the use of the Psychological Vulnerability Scale in higher education students.

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