Perhaps one of the greatest challenges facing psychology today is addressing the needs of ethnically diverse consumers. Many of the psychological disorders that have been studied widely display a common structure across cultures and language groups (Butcher, Lim, & Nezami, 1998). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) now recognizes the importance of integrating the influence of cultural factors into understanding the context of psychopathology and its effective treatment. As well, the American Psychological Association (1991) developed Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations, to focus awareness on the special vigilance that must be paid in providing services to individuals from different cultures, and individuals different from those on whom assessment instruments were originally developed and normed. In order for psychology to provide effective and useful diagnostic and treatment protocols to the variety of consumers in the population, psychology
Handbook of Multicultural Mental Health: Assessment and Treatment of Diverse Populations Copyright © 2000 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
must have more than just an awareness. The decision-making process for collecting information from culturally distinctive groups involves designating the function of the instrument that is being proposed. In other words, how will the information elicited from this instrument be used? Typical functions for these tests involve (a) cross-cultural comparisons of functional abilities; (b) cross-cultural comparisons of personality traits or other characteristics; (c) description of functional abilities within a culture; or (d) description of personality traits or other characteristics within a culture. Methodologies must be utilized that can help provide the necessary data from which psychologists can draw valid conclusions concerning psychological and neuropsychological functioning of culturally diverse consumers. Cultural competence in psychological testing requires first-language assessment of consumers, both to ensure accuracy of data for interpretation and for ethical reasons (Dana, 1993). In addition, mental health professionals in other countries have shown interest in test translations to better serve the needs of their population with valid interpretations of reliable instruments. These professionals are interested in equivalent versions of existing instruments that have been shown to be effective with patients in the United States (Butcher et al., 1998). Logic implies that if an instrument has been shown reliable and valid in one cultural context, it may hold potential for benefiting consumers in other cultures (Van de Vijver & Hambleton, 1996), though the validity cannot be assumed without supportive research. With this in mind, this chapter will focus on a review of test translation and cross-cultural methodologies which will assist researchers and clinicians in choosing how to best address the evaluation needs of ethnically diverse consumers. Along these lines, four domains of guidelines for translating tests from one culture to another will be briefly discussed (International Test Commission, 1993, as reported in Van de Vijver & Hambleton, 1996).
The cultural equivalence of a translated instrument has been generally described as the extent to which a word, concept, scale, or normative structure may be considered relevant and applicable to cultural groups other than the one in which these elements were developed (Marsella & Kameoka, 1989). Helms (1992) additionally describes cultural equivalence as the extent to which constructs hold similar meanings within and across cultural groups. Cross-cultural testing includes the goal of evaluating the commonality, or uniqueness, of a psychological concept, as well as potentially explaining the differences or similarities of functional abilities or personality characteristics from differing cultures (Butcher et al., 1998). Psychometric equivalence is, therefore, the degree to which test instruments measure the same variables at the same level across cultural groups (Helms, 1992). The function that the data will serve will determine the methodology used to develop the instrument utilized. In order to adequately address these objectives, various types of equivalencies need to be considered. These equivalencies include (a) linguistic equivalence; (b) item and scale equivalence; (c) normative equivalence; (d) technical equivalence; and (e) clinical equivalence. Determining the equivalence of a test for use across cultures will lessen the probability for commission of the cultural equivalence fallacy (Helms, 1992).
Was this article helpful?