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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00584

Validating the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ-II) using set-ESEM: Identifying Psychosocial Risk Factors in a Sample of School Principals

 Theresa Dicke1*, Herbert Marsh1, Philip Riley1,  Philip D. Parker1,  Jiesi Guo1 and  Marcus Horwood1
  • 1Australian Catholic University, Australia

School principals world-wide report high levels of strain and attrition resulting in a shortage of qualified principals. It is thus, crucial to identify psychosocial risk factors that reflect principals’ occupational wellbeing. For this purpose, we used the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ-II), a widely used self-report measure covering multiple psychosocial factors identified by leading occupational stress theories. We evaluated the COPSOQ-II regarding factor structure and longitudinal, discriminant, and convergent validity using latent structural equation modeling in a large sample of Australian school principals (N = 2,049). Results reveal that confirmatory factor analysis produced marginally acceptable model fit. A novel approach we call set exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM-set), where cross-loadings were only allowed within a priori defined sets of factors, fit well, and was more parsimonious than a full ESEM. Further multitrait-multimethod models based on the set-ESEM confirm the importance of a principal’s psychosocial risk factors; Stressors and depression were related to demands and ill-being, while confidence and autonomy were related to wellbeing. We also show that working in the private sector was beneficial for showing a low psychosocial risk, while other demographics have little effects. Finally, we identify five latent risk profiles (high risk to no risk) of school principals based on all psychosocial factors. Overall the research presented here closes the theory application gap of a strong multi-dimensional measure of psychosocial risk-factors.

Keywords: COPSOQ-II, Psychosocial risk factors, ESEM, school principals, Occupational wellbeing, Psychometrics, burnout

Received: 08 Jan 2018; Accepted: 06 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Sergio Machado, Salgado de Oliveira University, Brazil

Reviewed by:

Kenn Konstabel, National Institute for Health Development, Estonia
Cesar Merino-Soto, Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Peru  

Copyright: © 2018 Dicke, Marsh, Riley, Parker, Guo and Horwood. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Theresa Dicke, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia,