Objectives: Consistent with empowerment theory, parental empowerment acts as a mechanism of change in family-based interventions to support child health. Yet, there are no comprehensive, validated measures of parental health-related empowerment to test this important perspective. Informed by empowerment theory and in the context of a community-based obesity intervention, we developed a self-report measure of parental health-related empowerment and tested its preliminary validity with low-income parents. Methods: The Parental Empowerment through Awareness, Relationships, and Resources (PEARR) is a 21-item scale designed to measure three subdimensions of empowerment including resource empowerment, critical awareness, and relational empowerment. In the fall of 2017 or the fall of 2018, low-income parents (n = 770, 88% mothers) from 16 Head Start programs in Greater Boston completed the PEARR. The resulting data were randomly split into two equal samples with complete data. The factorial structure of the PEARR was tested in the first half of the sample using principal component analysis (PCA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and subsequently confirmed with the second half of the sample using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Internal consistency coefficients were calculated for the final subscales. Results: Results from the PCA and EFA analyses identified three component factors (eigenvalues = 8.25, 2.75, 2.12) with all items loading significantly onto the hypothesized subdimension (β > 0.59 and p
< 0.01). The three-factor model was subsequently confirmed with the second half of the sample using CFA (β > 0.54 and p
< 0.01). Fit indices met minimum criteria (Comparative Fit Index = 0.95, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.05 (0.05, 0.06), Standardized Root-Mean-Square Residual = 0.05). Subscales demonstrated strong internal consistency (α= 0.83–0.90). Conclusions: Results support initial validity of a brief survey measuring parental empowerment for child health among Head Start parents. The PEARR can be utilized to measure changes in parental empowerment through interventions targeting empowerment as a mechanism of change.
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