Initial Validation of Brief Measures of Suicide Risk Factors: Common Data Elements Used by the Military Suicide Research Consortium

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Abstract

The Military Suicide Research Consortium (MSRC) developed a 57-item questionnaire assessing suicide risk factors, referred to as the Common Data Elements (CDEs), in order to facilitate data sharing and improve collaboration across independent studies. All studies funded by MSRC are required to include the CDEs in their assessment protocol. The CDEs include shortened measures of the following: current and past suicide risk, lethality and intent of past suicide attempts, hopelessness, thwarted belongingness, anxiety sensitivity, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, traumatic brain injury, insomnia, and alcohol abuse. This study aimed to evaluate the psychometric properties of the CDE items drawn from empirically validated measures. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine the overall structure of the CDE items, and confirmatory factor analyses were used to evaluate the distinct properties of each scale. Internal consistencies of the CDE scales and correlations with full measures were also examined. Merged data from 3,140 participants (81.0% military service members, 75.6% male) across 19 MSRC-funded studies were used in analyses. Results indicated that all measures exhibited adequate internal consistency, and all CDE shortened measures were significantly correlated with the corresponding full measures with moderate to strong effect sizes. Factor analyses indicated that the shortened CDE measures performed well in comparison with the full measures. Overall, our findings suggest that the CDEs are not only brief but also provide psychometrically valid scores when assessing suicide risk and related factors that may be used in future research.

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