2002, Number 4
Salud Mental 2002; 25 (4)
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ABSTRACTA review of the bibliography on mental health suggests that in this area the disease model predominates, and that little attention is paid to the positive dimensions of health. The only attempt to develop a theoretical model of positive mental health is Jahoda’s (1958). The author proposed six general criteria: 1) Attitudes toward the self, 2) Growth, development, and self-actualization, 3) Integration, 4) Autonomy, 5) Perception of reality, and 6) Environmental mastery. She broke most of these criteria down into a number of dimensions (16 in all). The model is often cited by theoreticians of mental health but, 43 years on, it has not been expanded upon. From the conceptual perspective, then, the appraisal of positive mental health has not advanced, and, as far as the assessment of the construct is concerned, instruments to measure it are also lacking; a review of the bibliography shows that there is no scale that specifically assesses positive mental health.
Against this background, the present research project had two closely linked objectives: a) to empirically assess Jahoda’s conceptual model of positive mental health (1958), in its complete version of six general factors and 16 subfactors; and b) to start the construction of a scale to assess positive mental health and to analyse its psychometric properties, evaluating its correspondence with Jahoda’s model.
The project was conducted in a sample of students at the Nursing School of the University of Barcelona (Spain). To assess positive mental health a questionnaire was designed comprising 176 items taken from the 16 subfactors of Jahoda’s model (11 items from each subfactor). The analysis we performed took into account the two forms of the model: the 6 general factor structure and the 16 subfactor structure.
Analysis of the items showed that 34 needed to be revised or eliminated, on the grounds that they presented homogeneity indices below 0.25 and/or a variance below 0.30. Reliability, assessed using the alpha coefficient, was favorable for the general factor form (all factors presented scores above 0.70). However, in the 16 subfactor form, six subfactors obtained a low alpha coefficient, with scores between 0.58 and 0.14. The results of the exploratory factor analysis of each of the six general factors indicated that: a) the proposed subfactor structure was not found in any of the factors explored, b) the percentage of variance explained was high in all factors, ranging between 70.8 and 55.4%, c) in all the analyses a first factor emerged that explained a high percentage of variance (between 33.6 and 18.1%) and accumulates most of the items and d) the percentage of items that saturated above 0.40 on the first factor ranged from 35.7 to 100%. In summary, the 16 subfactor structure of the positive mental health model was not supported. The results defined the onedimensional structure of the six general factors. The criteria integration and autonomy, initially comprising a sole dimension, maintained the structure proposed by Jahoda (1958). The multidimensional structure proposed for the four remaining general criteria was not supported. In addition, the initial questionnaire underwent substantial variations: it was reduced to 40 items, structured in six factors, and unevenly distributed inside the factors.
Bearing in mind that this study is the first attempt to empirically assess Jahoda’s complete model (1958), the information obtained helps to redefine the general factors. It is an important contribution to the demanding but rewarding task of obtaining an empirical model of positive mental health