Objectives. Due to the rise of depressive symptomatology especially among vulnerable populations such as young adults during the COVID-19 outbreak, a reliable measuring tool is needed. Because of the lack of such studies, the authors decided to validate the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D 8) among Czech university students capturing the beginning of lockdown experience.
Statistical analyses. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted and structural equation modelling with diagonally weighted least squares estimation using lavaan was employed. Different hypotheses about the dimensionality of the CES-D 8 scale were tested. The authors assessed the measurement equivalence of the CES-D 8 scale according to gender using multigroup confirmatory factor analysis. The effect of socio-demographic and COVID-19 issues variables on depression was examined.
Results. One dimensional model with correlated errors showed sufficient validity and therefore, the best fit. Multigroup confirmatory factor analysis results revealed that the factor structure is invariant across gender. Women and those who reported financial distress and academic stress showed a higher level of depressive symptomatology. On the other hand, relationships proved to have a protective effect.
Limitations. The sample came from an online survey, respondents were self-selected. There was a gender imbalance in the sample that cannot be explained by a higher number of women in the Czech university environment.
Conclusions. The CES-D 8 proved to be a useful instrument for measuring depressed mood that opens further possibilities for depression research in the university environment and during pandemic situations.