Behavioral Measurement Database Services Blog

How HaPI Measures Up

Fred B. Bryant, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago

Karen Oakland, B.S., Marketing Director of HaPI

Linda S. Perloff, Ph.D., President of HaPI

One of the most common questions we receive here at Behavioral Measurement Database Services (BMDS) is, “What distinguishes the Health and Psychosocial Instruments (HaPI) database from other measurement databases?”

To answer this question, we have created a list detailing the top 12 unique features of HaPI:

(1) The premier bibliographic measurement database

Although many users seek merely to find an instrument for their research project, HaPI dives deeper. Originally, the HaPI database was designed to prevent researchers and students from having to create their own measurement instruments, when what they needed already existed. Over the years, however, HaPI has grown to include over 232,000 records; this allows users to compare alternative measures of the concepts they are interested in measuring. No other measurement database in the world contains as many records as HaPI.

(2) The first online measurement database

The HaPI database has been available in electronic form since 1988, when it first became widely accessible to faculty, clinicians, researchers, and students. We’ve had years of experience and have continued to grow in breadth and depth for more than 35 years.

(3) Breadth and depth of content coverage

The HaPI database covers a broader range of content topics in the health and psychosocial sciences than any other existing measurement database. HaPI covers psychosocial questionnaires and tests used across a wide range of diverse professions and disciplines, including medicine, nursing, psychology, public health, social work, sociology, communication, and organizational behavior.

HaPI contains instruments that measure the gamut of health and psychological constructs. The topics listed below are just the tip of the iceberg and represent a small sample of the huge range of constructs that HaPI covers.

  • Within the HEALTH, MEDICAL, NURSING, and PUBLIC HEALTH fields, we cover instruments pertaining to a broad range of topics, including arthritis, cancer, complementary and alternative medicine, dementia, diabetes, epidemiology, health-related quality of life, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, kidney diseases, nutrition, medication and treatment compliance, obesity, pain, palliative and hospice care, patient needs, psychiatry, quality of health care, stroke, substance abuse and addiction, treatment outcomes, and utilization of health care.
  • Within the field of PSYCHOLOGY, we cover psychosocial questionnaires that focus on a wide array of constructs, including academic achievement, aggression, altruism, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, bullying, child abuse, classroom environment, cognitive processes, coping, depression, empathy, family relations, friendship, happiness and subjective well-being, interpersonal interaction, life satisfaction, memory, perceived stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, prejudice and discrimination, psychodiagnosis, racial and ethnic identity, religious beliefs, self-efficacy, smoking cessation, social skills, social support, stereotypes, stigma, teacher attitudes, trauma, and victimization.
  • Within the field of SOCIAL WORK, HaPI includes psychosocial scales and interviews that measure caregiver burden, child welfare, domestic violence, foster care, gerontology, maternal and child health, needs assessment, psychotherapy, and utilization of social services.
  • Within the field of SOCIOLOGY, HaPI covers instruments that measure acculturation, gender equality, immigrant experiences, incarceration, juvenile delinquency, LGBTQIA+ issues, and socioeconomic status.
  • Within the field of ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, we cover instruments that assess burnout, employee motivation, group dynamics, job performance, job satisfaction, leadership style, occupational stress, organizational climate, supervisor-employee interactions, and working conditions, to name just a few key areas.

(4) Information about an instrument’s origin

The HaPI database meticulously documents the historical origin of each measurement instrument included in the database. Users can find the correct citation of the original publication of an instrument. The original publication reporting the development and validation of an instrument is designated by HaPI as the PRIMARY SOURCE for the instrument. PRIMARY SOURCE records provide key information about the origin and development of a given instrument that is particularly useful for bibliographic citation purposes. The HaPI database currently contains about 50,000 PRIMARY SOURCE records.

(5) Historical usage data

The HaPI database also includes SECONDARY SOURCE entries that provide bibliographic citations to later research articles that have reported administering the original instrument. These SECONDARY SOURCE records enable database users to assess the degree to which an instrument has been used and tested in the research literature over time, in different settings, and with different populations. SECONDARY SOURCE citations are also useful in compiling reviews of existing measurement instruments and constructing bibliographies for meta-analyses in particular content areas. The HaPI database currently contains about 120,000 SECONDARY SOURCE records.

(6) Quick information

The HaPI database provides short abstracts for almost all of its PRIMARY SOURCE measurement instruments, giving users all of the pertinent information that they need to select the most appropriate measures for their research. These PRIMARY SOURCE records in HaPI also include information about the underlying construct(s) that the instrument is intended to measure, the number of questions, types of response scales, sample items, types of research samples used to develop the instrument, reliability coefficients reported for the instrument, types of validity reported by the authors, subscales contained in the instrument, and how to obtain of a hard copy of the instrument if it is available. Records in the HaPI database also indicate when the original source article (i.e., the PRIMARY SOURCE article) provides all of the items for a particular instrument.

(7) Modified versions and short forms of instrument

Another unique feature of the HaPI database is that it enables users to find alternative versions of an original psychological scale that have been modified for use with special populations (e.g., children, older adults, inpatients, outpatients) or within specific content areas (e.g., quality of life among cancer patients versus quality of life among arthritis patients). HaPI also includes information on alternative forms of original instruments that later researchers have either revised to enhance ease of use or shortened to produce abbreviated versions with fewer items to reduce respondent burden.

(8) Subscales

The HaPI database also includes records about subscales or subtests. These narrower, more specific categories of items within a larger measurement instrument provide more refined, tightly-focused information about a given concept. For example, HaPI includes records describing the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (a measure of dispositional empathy developed by Mark Davis¹) as well as individual records describing its four subscales: Empathic Concern, Fantasy, Personal Distress, and Perspective-Taking. This feature of HaPI allows users to obtain easy, systematic access to available subscales for a given health, medical, or psychological questionnaire. We know of no other measurement database that offers this feature.

(9) Translated versions of instruments

The HaPI database includes more than 31,000 bibliographic citations to articles that report translations of an original instrument into a language other than that used in the original measurement instrument. This particular feature provides researchers with a convenient way to find existing translated measures for assessing a given construct in a particular language, for use in foreign samples and cross-cultural research.

(10) Commercially available instruments

The HaPI database includes information about measurement tools taken not only from the peer-reviewed research literature in the health and social sciences, but also from catalogs available from commercial test publishers. Although test publishers charge money to use their psychological tests, these commercial instruments often have the strongest evidence to support the validity of their use in assessing the intended target concepts. The HaPI database currently contains over 7,100 records providing bibliographic information regarding measurement instrument available from commercial test publishers.

(11) Review sources

The HaPI database contains roughly 28,000 citations to review articles, books, and book chapters that evaluate the measurement properties (e.g., construct validity, factor structure, reliability) of particular instruments. Such information can be useful in (a) assessing the quality and psychometric strength of an instrument, especially in relation to other similar measures, and (b) choosing from among a set of alternative measures of the same focal concept.

(12) Personalized service

Finally, unlike other electronic databases, HaPI provides free, real time, one-on-one assistance to users who need help finding or choosing a measurement instrument. Our librarians and Ph.D. measurement consultants are available to answer questions about our instruments and help you find and obtain a copy of the exact instrument you need, even if we do not have it in our database, completely free of charge.

In sum, the dozen features listed above highlight key reasons why you should choose the HaPI database for your next research project. When you are bombarded with information overload, HaPI makes it easy to find the right measurement tools for your project.

1Davis, M. H. (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.

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