Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

The development of culturally-sensitive measures for research on ageing


Attempts to import existing measures developed in other countries when constructing research instruments for use with older people can result in several problems including inappropriate wording, unsuitable response sets, and insufficient attention to cultural nuances. This paper addresses such problems by discussing a mixed-methods approach (i.e. both qualitative and quantitative) to measurement development that incorporates input from the older adults for whom the measure is intended. To test this approach, a step-by-step process to the development of a culturally-grounded measure for older Thai people is described. Using focus groups and in-depth interviews, the process begins with an identification of the culturally-meaningful domains of the construct under study. Next, input is gathered from other studies; a preliminary quantitative measure is developed; and the measure is reviewed by a panel of experts. Based on further pre-testing and cognitive interviews with older people, the measure is again modified. Subsequently, the measure is incorporated into a large-scale survey and tested for its psychometric qualities. In addition to providing a template for culturally-sensitive measurement development in gerontology, this paper also highlights issues (e.g. time constraints and trade-offs between cultural specificity as against cultural comparability) that researchers should consider when attempting to develop measures. Suggestions for how to address such issues are provided.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Berit Ingersoll-Dayton, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. E-mail:
Hide All
W. Chaiyawat and J. Brown 2000. Psychometric properties of the Thai versions of state-trait anxiety inventory for children and child medical fear scale. Research in Nursing and Health, 23, 5, 406–14.

J. C. Christopher 1999. Situating psychological well-being: exploring the cultural roots of its theory and research. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 2, 141–52.

D. Y. Ho 1998. Indigenous psychologies: Asian perspectives. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 29, 1, 88–103.

B. Ingersoll-Dayton and C. Saengtienchai 1999. Respect for the elderly in Asia: stability and change. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 48, 2, 113–30.

B. Ingersoll-Dayton , C. Saengtienchai , J. Kespichayawattana and Y. Aungsuroch 2001. Psychological well-being Asian style: the perspective of Thai elders. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology, 16, 3, 283302.

B. Ingersoll-Dayton , C. Saengtienchai , J. Kespichayawattana and Y. Aungsuroch 2004. Measuring psychological well-being: insights from Thai elders. The Gerontologist, 44, 5, 596604.

J. Knodel 1995. Focus groups as a qualitative method for cross-cultural research in social gerontology. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology, 10, 1, 7–20.

A. Lau , K. McKenna , C. Chan and R. Cummins 2003. Defining quality of life for Chinese elderly stroke survivors. Disability and Rehabilitation, 25, 13, 699711.

D. Mahoney , J. Cloutterbuck , S. Neary and L. Zhan 2005. African American, Chinese, and Latino family caregivers' impressions of the onset and diagnosis of dementia: cross-cultural similarities and differences. The Gerontologist, 45, 6, 783–92.

K. E. Miller , P. Omidian , A. S. Quaraishy , N. Quraishy , M. N. Nasiry , S. Nasiry , N. Karyar and A. A. Yaqubi 2006. The Afghan symptom checklist: a culturally grounded approach to mental health assessment in a conflict zone. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76, 4, 423–33.

D. L. Morgan 1997. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.

D. L. Morgan 1998. Practical strategies for combining qualitative and quantitative methods: applications to health research. Qualitative Health Research, 8, 3, 362–76.

C. D. Ryff 1989 a. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 6, 1069–81.

C. D. Ryff 1989 b. In the eye of the beholder: views of psychological well-being among middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 4, 2, 195210.

C. D. Ryff and C. L. Keyes 1995. The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 4, 719–27.

N. Schwartz 1999. Self-reports: how the questions shape the answers. American Psychologist, 54, 2, 93–105.

S. M. Skevington , J. Bradshaw and S. Saxena 1999. Selecting national items for the AHOQOL: conceptual and psychometric considerations. Social Science and Medicine, 48, 4, 473–87.

T. V. Tran 2009. Developing Cross-cultural Measurement. Oxford University Press, New York.

WHOQOL Group1995. The World Health Organization quality of life assessment (WHOQOL): position paper from the World Health Organization. Social Science and Medicine, 41, 10, 1403–9.

WHOQOL Group1998. The World Health Organization quality of life assessment (WHOQOL) development and general psychometric properties. Social Science and Medicine, 46, 12, 1569–85.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 24 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 229 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.