Cross-national validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale for children and adolescents: findings from the YouthSave-Impact Study Kenya

Njeri Kagotho, Natasha K. Bowen, Fred M. Ssewamala, Michael G. Vaughn, Gwyneth Kirkbride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A sense of hopelessness is common but under-identified among poor children in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Given the concomitant inadequate screening, assessment, and a lack of culturally and developmentally appropriate measures in much of SSA, identifying reliable and valid measures of hopelessness is needed. One promising candidate, the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), has undergone limited evaluation in the region and none with non-adult populations. The present study assesses the psychometric properties of the BHS using data from a diverse sample of 3965 school-going youth (M = 12.2, SD = 1.1) in Kenya. Given inconclusive results from model comparisons of previously established factor structures, we used parallel analysis, exploratory factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis to ascertain the factor structure of the BHS in this sample. We also evaluated measurement invariance of the scale across two key developmental ages (9–12 and 13–18), given distinct cognitive and emotional differences. Models supported a one-factor 20-item structure with partial invariance across child and adolescent samples. Concurrent criterion validity correlations were in the small to medium range. Findings provide evidence of the utility of the BHS as a psychometrically sound measure that possesses cultural relevance to Kenyan youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-469
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is funded by Columbia University’s International Center for Child Health and Asset Development (ICHAD) and the Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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