Open Access Research article

Validation of the conceptual research utilization scale: an application of the standards for educational and psychological testing in healthcare

Janet E Squires1*, Carole A Estabrooks2, Christine V Newburn-Cook2 and Mark Gierl3

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

3 Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:107  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-107

Published: 19 May 2011



There is a lack of acceptable, reliable, and valid survey instruments to measure conceptual research utilization (CRU). In this study, we investigated the psychometric properties of a newly developed scale (the CRU Scale).


We used the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing as a validation framework to assess four sources of validity evidence: content, response processes, internal structure, and relations to other variables. A panel of nine international research utilization experts performed a formal content validity assessment. To determine response process validity, we conducted a series of one-on-one scale administration sessions with 10 healthcare aides. Internal structure and relations to other variables validity was examined using CRU Scale response data from a sample of 707 healthcare aides working in 30 urban Canadian nursing homes. Principal components analysis and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to determine internal structure. Relations to other variables were examined using: (1) bivariate correlations; (2) change in mean values of CRU with increasing levels of other kinds of research utilization; and (3) multivariate linear regression.


Content validity index scores for the five items ranged from 0.55 to 1.00. The principal components analysis predicted a 5-item 1-factor model. This was inconsistent with the findings from the confirmatory factor analysis, which showed best fit for a 4-item 1-factor model. Bivariate associations between CRU and other kinds of research utilization were statistically significant (p < 0.01) for the latent CRU scale score and all five CRU items. The CRU scale score was also shown to be significant predictor of overall research utilization in multivariate linear regression.


The CRU scale showed acceptable initial psychometric properties with respect to responses from healthcare aides in nursing homes. Based on our validity, reliability, and acceptability analyses, we recommend using a reduced (four-item) version of the CRU scale to yield sound assessments of CRU by healthcare aides. Refinement to the wording of one item is also needed. Planned future research will include: latent scale scoring, identification of variables that predict and are outcomes to conceptual research use, and longitudinal work to determine CRU Scale sensitivity to change.