Objective: Demoralization has been mostly investigated in oncology but is also relevant for patients with other physical illnesses. Our aims were to investigate the psychometric properties of the 24-item Italian version of the Demoralization Scale (DS-24) among medically ill inpatients, and to develop shorter versions for screening. Methods: Four-hundred and seventy-three participants were recruited from medical wards of the University Hospital of Ferrara. Patients were assessed using the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research-Demoralization module (DCPR/D), Demoralization Scale (DS-24), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Brief-Symptom Inventory-18, Anxiety subscale (BSI-Anx) and EuroQol Group (EQ-5D). Confirmatory factor analyses of previous structures and exploratory factor analyses were conducted using an Item Response Theory approach, including a bifactor model. Results: According to DCPR/D criteria, the prevalence of demoralization was 40%. Confirmatory analyses revealed that none out of seven factor structures from oncology studies adequately fitted data from hospital inpatients. Exploratory Item Factor Analysis uncovered a four-factor model comprising Disheartenment, Dysphoria, Sense of Failure, Loss of Meaning and Purpose, or a bifactor model, comprising similar factors with the addition of a general factor accounting for 45% of the variance. Moreover, we developed 13 and 6-item versions of the DS, both retaining high correlation with DS-24 scores (r = 0.98 and r = 0.95, respectively) and concordance with DCPR/D criteria (AUC-ROC 0.82 and 0.81). Conclusion: The DS factor structure differs between general hospital and cancer patients. Differences may depend on intrinsic disease features and cultural-geographic factors. The short versions of the DS-24 may aid clinicians in identifying demoralized patients in hospital settings.
- Chronic diseases
- General hospital