Racial/ethnic differences in responses to the everyday discrimination scale: A differential item functioning analysis

Tené T. Lewis, Frances M. Yang, Elizabeth A. Jacobs, George Fitchett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


The authors examined the impact of race/ethnicity on responses to the Everyday Discrimination Scale, one of the most widely used discrimination scales in epidemiologic and public health research. Participants were 3,295 middle-aged US women (African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese) from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) baseline examination (1996-1997). Multiple-indicator, multiple-cause models were used to examine differential item functioning (DIF) on the Everyday Discrimination Scale by race/ethnicity. After adjustment for age, education, and language of interview, meaningful DIF was observed for 3 (out of 10) items: "receiving poorer service in restaurants or stores," "being treated as if you are dishonest," and "being treated with less courtesy than other people" (all P's < 0.001). Consequently, the "profile" of everyday discrimination differed slightly for women of different racial/ethnic groups, with certain "public" experiences appearing to have more salience for African-American and Chinese women and "dishonesty" having more salience for racial/ethnic minority women overall. "Courtesy" appeared to have more salience for Hispanic women only in comparison with African-American women. Findings suggest that the Everyday Discrimination Scale could potentially be used across racial/ethnic groups as originally intended. However, researchers should use caution with items that demonstrated DIF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-401
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • Asian Americans
  • European continental ancestry group
  • Hispanic Americans
  • bias (epidemiology)
  • prejudice
  • psychometrics
  • questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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