The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MN conceived and designed the validation study, conducted the analysis, managed the review and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. AG contributed to study’s technical scope, result interpretation, manuscript writing and revision. KW provided guidance for the design of the study, revised and reviewed drafts of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Perception-based Likert scale are commonly used to assess household food insecurity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychometric properties and external construct validity of the 9-item Food Access Survey Tool (FAST) in a population-based randomized controlled trial.
Participating women (n = 11,992) were asked to recall the frequencies of nine food insecurity experiences over the past 6 months on a 5-point Likert scale. The Rasch partial credit model was used to study the item category severity and differential item functioning (DIF) by literacy status, respondents’ age, land ownership and household sizes. Principal component analysis (PCA), non-parametric methods, and cumulative ordinal logistic regression models were applied to examine the Rasch model assumptions, namely unidimensionality, monotonicity and measurement invariance (non-DIF).
All items demonstrated good model fit with acceptable values of fit statistics (infit). PCA as well as other indices (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.85, scalability coefficient = 0.48) indicated that all items fit in a single statistical dimension. The ordered responses of nine items displayed monotonic increasing item category severity as expected theoretically. All nine items were flagged with statistically significant DIF between key demographic—and socioeconomic subgroups (p < 0.001); however, none of the detected DIF was considered practically significant given small effect sizes (variance explained by group membership and interaction term < 1 %). The total summed score over the polytomous FAST was inversely associated with household wealth, dietary diversity score and maternal body mass index, demonstrating external construct validity.
The polytomous FAST is internally and externally valid tool to measure household food insecurity in rural Bangladesh. Validation of this type of studies are recommended for similar Likert food insecurity scales.