Development and Validation of a Measure of Workplace Climate for Healthy Weight Maintenance

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Due to the obesity epidemic, an increasing amount of research is being conducted to better understand the antecedents and consequences of excess employee weight. One construct often of interest to researchers in this area is organizational climate. Unfortunately, a viable measure of climate, as related to employee weight, does not exist. The purpose of this study was to remedy this by developing and validating a concise, psychometrically sound measure of climate for healthy weight. An item pool was developed based on surveys of full-time employees, and a sorting task was used to eliminate ambiguous items. Items were pilot tested by a sample of 338 full-time employees, and the item pool was reduced through item response theory (IRT) and reliability analyses. Finally, the retained 14 items, comprising 3 subscales, were completed by a sample of 360 full-time employees, representing 26 different organizations from across the United States. Multilevel modeling indicated that sufficient variance was explained by group membership to support aggregation, and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) supported the hypothesized model of 3 subscale factors and an overall climate factor. Nine hypotheses specific to construct validation were tested. Scores on the new scale correlated significantly with individual-level reports of psychological constructs (e.g., health motivation, general leadership support for health) and physiological phenomena (e.g., body mass index [BMI], physical health problems) to which they should theoretically relate, supporting construct validity. Implications for the use of this scale in both applied and research settings are discussed.

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