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Psychological Assessment 1993, Vol. 5. No.

2, 238-240

Copyright 1993 by the American Psychological Association Jnc 1040-3 590/93/S3.00

Reliability of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale


Michael P. Carey, liana P. Spector, Larry J. Lantinga, and Dennis J. Krauss
This study examined the reliability of Spanier's (1976) Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS). Middleaged men and women (/V = 158) completed the DAS on 2 occasions separated by approximately 2 weeks. Separate alpha and stability coefficients were calculated for each of the 4 DAS subscales as well as the Total score. Coefficients alpha ranged from .70 (for the 4-item Affectional Expression subscale) to .95 (for the 32-item Total score), Mdn = .87. Stability coefficients ranged from .75 (Affectional Expression) to .87 (Total), Mdn = .81. Partial correlations revealed that the stability of the DAS was not influenced by subjects' age, educational attainment, number of children, relationship duration, or the length of the test-retest interval. These results suggest the DAS and its 4 subscales are internally consistent and stable over the interval examined in this study.

Marital adjustment can profoundly affect quality of life. Indeed, research has established the importance of marital adjustment for a variety of clinical endpoints, including mental health (e.g., Waring & Patton, 1984), somatic health (e.g., Chowanec & Binik, 1989), and even longevity (Berkman & Syme, 1979). Given the importance of marital adjustment for health, many social scientists routinely measure this construct in their research. Marital adjustment can be measured with numerous approaches, including structured clinical interviews, behavioral role-play procedures, and in vivo observation. Although each of these assessment strategies has its advantages, the most commonly used method in clinical research involves self-report questionnaires. At least 20 self-report measures of marital adjustment are available in the literature (Birchnell, 1988; Spanier, 1979). Of these, the most widely used may be Spanier's (1976) Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS). Spanier (1988) reported that the DAS had been used in more than 1,000 studies in the interval between 1976 and 1988. Although the DAS has been criticized (e.g., because of the questionable clinical significance of some items; see Eddy, Heyman, & Weiss, 1991, and Fincham & Bradbury, 1987), many experts recommend the DAS over competing instruments because of its brevity, applicability to nonmarried couples, and solid psychometric properties (cf. Bornstein & Bornstein, 1986; Cohen, 1985; Jacobson & Margolin, 1979; Wincze & Carey, 1991).

Research has examined the internal consistency, validity, and factorial structure of the DAS (e.g., Sabourin, Lussier, Laplante, & Wright, 1990; Sharpley & Cross, 1982; Spanier & Thompson, 1982); to our knowledge, however, no research has examined the temporal stability of the DAS. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was to examine the test-retest reliability of the DAS. We also provide information regarding the internal consistency of the DAS. Method Subjects were 110 men and 48 women who were currently involved in an intimate relationship: 89% were married, 6% were living together, and 5% were in a serious relationship but living separately. (None of these men and women were involved with one another.) The average duration of these relationships was 21.3 years. The subjects were primarily White (92%) and middle-aged (M - 53.3 years). Ninety-six percent of the subjects had some high school education, 76% had completed high school, and 25% had graduated from college. Annual family income levels were as follows: less than $10,000 (16%); $10,000-20,000 (26%); $20,001-30,000 (17%); $30,001-40,000 (11%); $40,001-50,000 (11%); and more than $50,000 (19%). Eighty-one percent of the subjects had children (M = 2.4 children per subject).

Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS)


The DAS (Spanier, 1976) provided a general measure of satisfaction in an intimate relationship; this 32-item instrument yields a Total score and four subscores: Dyadic Satisfaction, Dyadic Cohesion, Dyadic Consensus, and Aifectional Expression. The items are written at an 8th grade reading level (Jensen, Witcher, & Upton, 1987), and most respondents can complete the instrument in 10 min or less. The DAS has demonstrated discriminant validity by distinguishing between married and divorced couples, and concurrent validity by correlating with the Marital Adjustment Scale (Locke & Wallace, 1959). Procedures Subjects were recruited from two sources. First, 88 subjects were recruited during a routine office visit to an outpatient Urology Clinic at the Syracuse Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. To obtain these subjects, 100 potential subjects were approached by a research assistant (RA) while they waited to see their physician. These patients were told that (a) the purpose of the study was to learn more
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Michael P. Carey and liana P. Spector, Department of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University; Larry J. Lantinga and Dennis J. Krauss, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse, New York. Preparation of this report was facilitated by Grant DA07635-02 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We thank Brooke Goldberg and Mark Kuzia for their assistance with data coding and entry, and Kate B. Carey for her helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael P. Carey, Department of Psychology and Center for Health and Behavior, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244-2340.

BRIEF REPORTS

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Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations, Zero-Order and Partial Coefficients, Retest Differences, and t Tests for Dyadic Adjustment Scale Scores and Subscales at Test and Retest Intervals
Test Scale Affectional Expression Cohesion Consensus Satisfaction Total score Retest Zeroorder r Difference Partial r

M
9.0
15.7 49.4 38.8 113.1

SD 3.0 4.3 8.8 6.4


19.1

M
8.8
15.4 49.5 38.6 112.2

SD 2.5 4.2 8.0 7.0


18.9

M
0.18 0.22 -0.08 0.21 0.86

SD
1.98 2.86 4.70 0.41 9.58

t
0.94" 0.80M -0.1 8 5.39* .93"

.75* .77* .85* a .81* .87*

.73* .76* .84* .83* .87*

Note. TV = 107. " This stability coefficient was also calculated separately by sample, VA r(51) = .82 and SU r(56) = .89, but these correlations were not significantly different, Z = 1.32, p > .05. *p<.0001.

about the relationship between marital adjustment and health, (b) completion of the forms was optional and would not affect their health care in any way, and (c) their responses were confidential and would not be shared with their physician. They were asked to sign an informed consent form and to complete a demographic information page as well as the DAS. If a patient's next scheduled office visit was to occur within the next 3 weeks, then the RA met the patient at that time and asked the patient to complete the DAS once again. Alternatively, if a patient was not scheduled to return to the clinic within 3 weeks, then the RA sent the patient a letter asking the patient to complete the DAS once again. Of the 88 recruited subjects, 51 (58%) were recontacted and provided complete data for this study. Second, 70 additional subjects were recruited through a mail-based survey. Specifically, a random sample of 150 Syracuse University (SU) employees received a letter overviewing the purposes and procedures of the study, a demographic information page, and the DAS. Those wishing to participate were instructed to complete the form, create a unique identification code for future use (to match the test with the retest questionnaire), and return these materials to the RA. Of the 150 questionnaires sent out initially, 116 were returneda 77.3% response rate. Forty-five of these were returned uncompleted because the addressee was no longer employed at the university or was not currently involved in a dyadic relationship. One week after returning the initial questionnaire, subjects received a second DAS by mail. Of the 71 subjects who consented to participate in the study, 56 (79%) provided complete data for this study.

Results and Discussion


First, to determine whether subjects who provided complete data (n = 107) differed from those who did not (n = 51), between-groups comparisons on the DAS scales were conducted. Results indicated no significant differences on the Total score (completers M= 113.1, noncompleters M= 112.4) or any of the subscales: Affectional Expression (completers M = 9.0, noncompleters M = 8.9); Cohesion (completers M= 15.7, noncompleters M = 15.8); Consensus (completers M = 49.4, noncompleters M = 50.6); or Satisfaction (completers M = 38.8, noncompleters M = 37.0). These findings suggest that completers did not differ from noncompleters with regard to their DAS scores. Second, to determine whether baseline DAS scores differed as a function of gender, between-gender comparisons on the

DAS scales were conducted. Results indicated no significant differences on the Total score (female M = 113.0, male M = 112.8) or any of the subscales: Affectional Expression (female M= 8.9, male M = 9.0); Cohesion (female M= 16.3, male M= 15.5); Consensus (female M = 48.7, male M= 50.3); or Satisfaction (female M= 38.8, male M = 38.0). These findings suggest that female subjects did not differ from male subjects with regard to their Dyadic Adjustment Scale scores; therefore, scores for women and men were combined for subsequent analyses. Third, to determine whether baseline DAS scores differed as a function of recruitment site, between-group (VA. vs. SU) comparisons on the DAS scales were conducted. Results indicated no significant differences on the Total score (VA M = 114.5; SU M= 110.8) or the following subscales: Affectional Expression (VA M= 9.3, SU M= 8.5); Cohesion (VA M= 15.4, SU M = 16.1); and Satisfaction (VA M= 38.1, SU M= 38.4). The two groups did differ on the Consensus subscale, VA M= 51.5, SU M= 47.7; t(\ 50) = -2.63, p < .01; therefore, test-retest analyses on this subscale were conducted both jointly and separately for the two samples. Fourth, to examine the primary question of interest (viz., the temporal stability of the DAS), separate Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients were calculated for all of the DAS scores. The test and retest means (M) and standard deviations (SD) for each of the subscales and the Total score as well as the stability coefficients (r) are provided in Table 1. As can be seen there, all of these stability coefficients were highly significant, ranging from .75 to .87. Fifth, as an additional test of the stability of the DAS, we calculated difference scores (test-retest) and conducted t test comparisons (for nonindependent scores) to determine whether the mean change from test to retest was significantly different from zero. These difference scores, SDs, t statistics, and probability values (p) for the null hypothesis (i.e., that the mean difference is equal to zero) are presented in Table 1. As can be seen there, four of the five comparisons were not significant. Scores on the Satisfaction subscale were statistically different from test to retest, t = 5.39, p < .0001; however, the magnitude of this difference (i.e., M= 0.21) cannot be considered clinically significant. Sixth, exploratory analyses were conducted to determine

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BRIEF REPORTS Birchnell, J. (1988). The assessment of the marital relationship by questionnaire. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 3, 57-70. Bornstein, P. H., & Bornstein, M. T. (1986). Marital therapy: A behavioral-communications approach. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press. Chowanec, G. D., & Binik, Y. M. (1989). End stage renal disease and the marital dyad: An empirical investigation. Social Science and Medicine, 25,971-983. Cohen, P. (1985). Family measurement techniques: Locke Marital Adjustment Scale and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. American Journal of Family Therapy, 13, 66-71. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297-334. Eddy, J. M., Heyman, R. E, & Weiss, R. L. (1991). An empirical evaluation of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale: Exploring the differences between marital "satisfaction" and "adjustment." Behavioral Assessment, 13, 199-220. Fincham, F. D., & Bradbury, T. N. (1987). The assessment of marital quality: A reevaluation. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 49, 797809. Jacobson, N. S., & Margolin, G. (1979). Marital therapy: Strategies based on social learning and behavior exchange principles. New \brk: Brunner/Mazel. Jensen, B. J., Witcher, D. B., & Upton, L. R. (1987). Readability assessment of questionnaires frequently used in sex and marital therapy. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 13, 137-141. Locke, H. J., & Wallace, K. M. (1959). Short marital adjustment and prediction tests: Their reliability and validity. Marriage and Family Living, 27,251-255. Sabourin, S., Lussier, Y, Laplante, B., & Wright, J. (1990). Unidimensional and multidimensional models of dyadic adjustment: A hierarchical reconciliation. Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2, 333-337. Sharpley, C. F, & Cross, D. G. (1982). A psychometric evaluation of the Spanier Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 4,739-741. Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15-28. Spanier, G. B. (1979). The measurement of marital quality. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 5, 288-300. Spanier, G. B. (1988). Assessing the strengths of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Journal of Family Psychology, 2, 92-94. Spanier, G. B., & Thompson, L. (1982). A confirmatory analysis of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 44, 731-738. Waring, E. M., & Patton, D. (1984). Marital intimacy and depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 641-644. Wincze, J. P., & Carey, M. P. (1991). Sexual dysfunctions: A guide for assessment and treatment. New \brk: Guilford Press.

whether the stability of the DAS was influenced by age (M = 50.8 years), educational attainment (M= 13.6 years), number of children (M = 2.2 children), relationship duration (M = 22.3 years), or test-retest interval (M = 13.2 days); separate stability coefficients were recalculated for the five DAS scores, partialling out the effects of these variables. In no instance were the stability coefficients significantly attenuated or enhanced by this statistical approach (see Table 1). Finally, we also examined the internal consistency of the DAS. Coefficients alpha (Cronbach, 1951) were calculated for each of the scales: Affectional Expression (4 items, .70); Cohesion (5 items, .83); Consensus (13 items, .91); Satisfaction (10 items, .87); and Total DAS score (32 items, .95). These values are similar to those obtained previously (e.g., Sabourin et al., 1990; Spanier, 1976) and reflect high internal consistency. We wish to acknowledge the limitations of our research. First, because our subjects were recruited through procedures that were convenient, practical, and minimally invasive, it is possible that our sample is nonrepresentative of the general population. It is interesting to note, however, that the mean Total score obtained in our sample (M = 113.1) is simi lar to that reported by Spanier (1976) in his original sample of married couples (A/= 114.8). Second, not all subjects returned the retest DAS. Given the nature of our design, we cannot provide reasons for this but recognize that such attrition may have influenced the results. Third, we elected a relatively brief retest interval. This interval was selected to minimize carry-over effects and to maximize subject retention. It is likely that longer test-retest intervals, which may be more typical of the intervals between pre- and posttreatment assessments, will result in lower stability coefficients; this hypothesis needs to be evaluated empirically.

Conclusion
The present findings indicate that the Dyadic Adjustment Scale is an internally consistent instrument that is stable over brief intervals. The minor discrepancies from the initial assessment to the retest may have resulted from changes in the nature of the relationship, instability of our subjects' self-report, or characteristics of the DAS itself. Given the brevity of the retest interval and because all subjects denied any significant changes in their relationships during this time, we believe that it is unlikely that the relationship itself changed in any important way. In any event, however, these discrepancies were minor and do not prevent us from concluding that the Dyadic Adjustment Scale and its four subscales are internally consistent and stable over the intervals examined in this study.

References
Berkman, L. E, & Syme, S. L. (1979). Social networks, host resistance, and mortality: A nine year follow-up study of Alameda County residents. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109, 168-204.

Received July 6,1992 Revision received September 15,1992 Accepted September 15,1992