Bayesian Multilevel MIMIC Modeling for Studying Measurement Invariance in Cross-group Comparisons

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Abstract

Background:

Recent methodological advancements should catalyze the evaluation of measurement invariance across groups, which is required for conducting meaningful cross-group comparisons.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to apply a state-of-the-art statistical method for comparing latent mean scores and evaluating measurement invariance across managers’ and frontline workers’ ratings of the organization of hospital care.

Methods:

On the 87 nursing units in a single institution, French-speaking and Dutch-speaking nursing unit managers’ and staff nurses’ ratings of their work environment were measured using the multidimensional 32-item practice environment scale of the nursing work index (PES-NWI). Measurement invariance and latent mean scores were evaluated in the form of a Bayesian 2-level multiple indicators multiple causes model with covariates at the individual nurse and nursing unit level. Role (manager, staff nurse) and language (French, Dutch) are of primary interest.

Results:

Language group membership accounted for 7 of 11 PES-NWI items showing measurement noninvariance. Cross-group comparisons also showed that covariates at both within-level and between-level had significant effects on PES-NWI latent mean scores. Most notably, nursing unit managers, when compared with staff nurses, hold more positive views of several PES-NWI dimensions.

Conclusions:

Using a widely used instrument for measuring nurses’ work environment, this study shows that precautions for the potential threat of measurement noninvariance are necessary in all stages of a study that relies on survey data to compare groups, particularly in multilingual settings. A Bayesian multilevel multiple indicators multiple causes approach can accommodate for detecting all possible instances of noninvariance for multiple covariates of interest at the within-level and between-level jointly.

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