Strong Souls: development and validation of a culturally appropriate tool for assessment of social and emotional well-being in Indigenous youth

Alicia Thomas, Sheree Cairney, Wendy Gunthorpe, Yin Paradies, Susan Sayers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: The aim of the present study was to develop and validate an appropriate tool to assess the social and emotional well-being (SEWB) of Indigenous adolescents participating in the longitudinal Aboriginal Birth Cohort (ABC) Study. Method: A range of tools was assessed as to the suitability of each for use in the ABC Study. Two existing tools and a newly developed one called 'Strong Souls' were piloted in a representative group (n = 67). Strong Souls was selected as the most appropriate for use in the ABC Study, and was completed by 361 participants. Exploratory factor analysis was used to explore construct validity. Cronbach alpha was used to assess the reliability of the latent constructs and the tool overall. Results: Factor analysis produced a 25-item, four-factor model accounting for 34.5% of the variance. This model demonstrated sound construct validity and reliability. Factor structure was consistent with the epidemiological literature, identifying constructs of anxiety, resilience, depression and suicide risk. While these align with observations in mainstream populations, different relationships between distinct factors, and differences in symptomatology were found in this population. For example, two key findings were: feelings of sadness and low mood were linked with anxiety and not depression; and the expression of anger was verified as a unique symptom of depression for Indigenous people. Conclusions: Strong Souls demonstrated validity, reliability and cultural appropriateness as a tool for screening for SEWB among Indigenous young people in the Northern Territory. � 2010 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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