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Evaluating the Validity and Reliability of the Gender Equitable Men’s Scale Using a Longitudinal Cohort of Adolescent Girls and Young Women in South Africa


Inequitable gender norms and beliefs contribute to increased sexual risk behavior, and, among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), risk of HIV acquisition. We investigated the longitudinal measurement properties of the Gender Equitable Men's Scale (GEMS) when applied to a cohort of AGYW in rural South Africa (2011-2015). We used item response theory [Person-Item maps, Differential Item Functioning (DIF)] and measurement invariance confirmatory factor analysis models to assess the validity and reliability of the GEMS instrument. Item difficulty and endorsement of gender equitable beliefs both shifted over time. DIF analysis identified item bias for over half of the items; influenced by age, pregnancy, sexual debut, and intimate partner violence. Measurement invariance models revealed strong longitudinal invariance properties. GEMS is a reliable longitudinal measurement of gender equitable beliefs, with notable bias for specific items when administered to subgroups. Additional items specific to the adolescent experience are warranted for a more stable assessment of gender equitable beliefs in a population facing shifting norms as they mature.

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