Cronbach's a is the most widely used index of the reliability of a scale. However, its use and interpretation can be subject to a number of errors. This article discusses the historical development of a from other indexes of internal consistency (split-half reliability and Kuder-Richardson 20) and discusses four myths associated with a: (a) that it is a fixed property of the scale, (b) that it measures only the internal consistency of the scale, (c) that higher values are always preferred over lower ones, and (d) that it is restricted to the range of 0 to 1. It provides some recommendations for acceptable values of a in different situations.
The results of an external proficiency test of clinical chemistry laboratories in Sweden when the target analyte was ethylene glycol (EG) are presented. Specimens of plasma were spiked with EG (10% w/v) to give assigned concentrations ranging from 5 to 50 mmol/L. Over a period of 6 years, two control specimens of plasma were sent for analysis on 21 occasions to between 14 and 20 participating laboratories as a declared proficiency trial. The analytical precision between and within laboratories was determined by spiking the plasma specimens with the same concentration of EG so that the results reported back could be considered a duplicate determination. On one occasion propylene glycol (PG) was substituted for EG without informing the participants. The standard deviation (SD) within laboratories expressed as the coefficient of variation (CV) was 4.5% compared with 11.4% between laboratories. Results reported by laboratories using gas chromatography (GC) were in good agreement with those when an enzymatic method was used. The between-laboratory SD increased with concentration of EG in the specimen and at a mean concentration of 18 mmol/L, the pooled SD was 4.11 mmol/L (CV = 23%). Four laboratories reported finding EG in plasma when PG was the diol present; three laboratories used an enzymatic method and one used GC. Clinical laboratories that provide a toxicology service should regularly participate in external quality assurance schemes that include low-molecular-weight alcohols such as EG. Efforts should be made to standardize the analytical methods used for toxicological analysis.
The article describes challenges related to the transfer of a family assessment instrument, the Assessment of Strategies in Families-Effectiveness (ASF-E), and its theoretical basis to another culture.
Instrument development encompassed translation and discussion of theoretical and cultural relevance of the items. Patients from two clinics in Tampere, Finland (N = 196) completed the ASF. Psychometric tests involved factor and reliability analysis.
The theoretical constructs of stability, growth, control and connectedness/spirituality were represented in the factor structure, and reliability ranged from .65 to .83.
There were cultural differences in the interpretation of certain items. Characteristics of Finnish culture with impact on instrument validity were homogeneity and family emphasis on conflict resolution. Insights contributed to further instrument development and broader understanding of culture.