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Psychometric Assessment of the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form in Athletes: A Bifactor Modeling Approach

Stephen Shannon, Mark Shevlin, and Gavin Breslin

Aim: A recent mental health in sport consensus statement advocates Keyes’ two continua model with an associated Mental Health Continuum (MHC) instrument to assess mental health in athletes. However, there remains statistically inconsistent usage of the MHC in athletes, so further exploration of the MHC’s psychometric factors is required. Methods: Athletes (N = 1,097) aged 32.63 (SD = 11.16) comprising 603 females (55.7%) and 478 males (44.3%), completed the 14-item MHC-Short Form, alongside validated measures of anxiety and depression. Five confirmatory factor analytic and bifactor models were developed based on extant research and theory. Results: Overall, a bifactor structure with a “general” positive mental health factor, and three specific factors (“hedonic well-being,” “social well-being,” and “psychological well-being”) fitted the data well and was deemed the superior model. Conclusion: A bifactor model of the MHC-Short Form is recommended comprising a composite score alongside specific factors of hedonic, social, and psychological well-being.