What do help-seeking measures assess? Building a conceptualization framework for help-seeking intentions through a systematic review of measure content

Publication date: February 2018
Source:Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 59
Author(s): Margaret M. White, Bonnie A. Clough, Leanne M. Casey
Mental health services are underutilised by people who could benefit from treatment. Research into help-seeking intentions (HSI) is required to support interventions to increase service use. Existing HSI measures are not psychometrically robust and problems with content validity undermine research in this field. Our purpose was to create a clear conceptualization of HSI and systematically review the content of existing measures. Previous researchers had defined help-seeking and intentions separately, so the first step was to create a more comprehensive definition.Seven theoretical perspectives identified in the HSI literature were mapped onto the new definition and aggregated to form a conceptual framework that reflects expert opinion. This framework guided an analysis of item relevance and a comparison of completeness across measures. Most individual items (99.1%) were relevant, lending credibility to the proposed framework. However, no measure provided a complete assessment of the HSI construct. This study used a novel methodology to develop a definition and conceptual framework, both of which reflect sound theoretical perspectives and represent the consensus-view of experts. The current results will guide the development of stronger measures with improved construct validity and will support interventions aimed at improving help-seeking.