The Enriched Life Scale (ELS)

Development, Exploratory Factor Analysis, and Preliminary Construct Validity for U.S. Military Veteran and Civilian Samples

Published in: Translational Behavioral Medicine (2018). doi: 10.1093/tbm/iby109

Posted on RAND.org on January 04, 2019

by Caroline M. Angel, Mahlet Atakilt Woldetsadik, Nicholas J. Armstrong, Brandon B. Young, Rachel K. Linsner, Rosalinda V. Maury, John M. Pinter

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The U.S. military veteran serving nonprofit, Team Red, White & Blue (RWB), defined an "enriched life" as having physical, mental, and emotional health; supportive relationships; and a sense of purpose. Until now, no corresponding measure of an "enriched life" existed for the purposes of clinical assessment and research. The primary objective of this study was to explore the psychometric properties of the Enriched Life Scale (ELS) in veteran and civilian samples. Our secondary objective was to examine differences in ELS scores in subgroups of veterans who had combat deployments and service-related injuries. Veteran thought leaders working with social scientists developed the ELS and implemented exploratory factor analysis to determine the underlying dimensions of the "enriched life" construct. One thousand one hundred and eighty-seven veterans and 598 civilians participated in the study. This article describes the development of the ELS, reliability, exploratory factor analysis, and preliminary construct validity. The final ELS had 40 items and consisted of five constructs that were labeled "Genuine Relationships"; "Sense of Purpose"; "Engaged Citizenship"; "Mental Health"; and "Physical Health." Measures had high internal consistency (α = 0.82-0.94). Civilians scored higher than veterans on every ELS item, subscales, and total score, with small to large effect size differences noted between groups. In the veteran subsample, individuals with combat experience scored lower on every ELS subscale than those without combat experience (small effect sizes), as did veterans with service-related injuries in comparison to those without them (small to large effect sizes). This article establishes preliminary psychometric properties of the ELS—a promising instrument to measure an enriched life. Further study is currently underway to establish confirmatory factor analyses and explore extending its usage to diverse military and civilian samples.

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