Exploratory structural equation modeling: a streamlined step by step approach using the R Project software

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Prokofieva, Maria ORCID: 0000-0003-1974-3827, Zarate, Daniel ORCID: 0000-0002-1508-8637, Parker, Alexandra ORCID: 0000-0002-2398-6306, Palikara, Olympia and Stavropoulos, Vasileios ORCID: 0000-0001-6964-4662 (2023) Exploratory structural equation modeling: a streamlined step by step approach using the R Project software. BMC Psychiatry, 23. ISSN 1471-244X


Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) has been a popular yet limited approach to assessing latent factor structures. Despite items rarely loading exclusively on one latent factor in multifactorial scales, CFA assumes all indicators/items should load uniquely on their allocated latent dimensions. To address this weakness, Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling (ESEM) combines exploratory factor analyses (EFA) and CFA procedures, allowing cross-loadings to occur when assessing hypothesized models. Although such advantages have enhanced ESEM popularity, its adoption is often limited by software rigidity and complex coding difficulties. To address these obstacles, the current tutorial presents a streamlined, step-by-step approach using the open-source software R while providing both R and Mplus ESEM syntax. The tutorial demonstrates the sequence of the ESEM stages by examining the frequently debated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) factor structure, using openly accessible data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). As ESEM may allow a better understanding of the complex associations in multidimensional scales, this tutorial may optimize the epidemiological and clinical assessment of common yet multifaceted psychiatric presentations.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/46762
DOI 10.1186/s12888-023-05028-9
Official URL https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/1...
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5299 Other psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords R project software, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, CFA, latent factors, open source software
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