Psychometric Properties of Two Questionnaires Measuring Emotional Divorce in Iranian Context

Special Article – Community Healthcare

J Fam Med. 2018; 5(2): 1137.

Psychometric Properties of Two Questionnaires Measuring Emotional Divorce in Iranian Context

Muhammad Samari1 and Nouzar Nakhaee2*

¹Research Center for Health Services Management, Institute of Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

²Neuroscience Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

*Corresponding author: Nouzar Nakhaee, M.P.H. Professor of Community Medicine, Neuroscience Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman Neuroscience Research Center, Somayeh Cross- In Front of Besat Clinic Kerman, Iran

Received: February 21, 2018; Accepted: March 16, 2018; Published: March 23, 2018


Introduction: Research on emotional divorce as a period prior to the legal divorce is of great importance especially in countries where divorce is a taboo. This study aimed to assess the reliability and validity of two questionnaires evaluating emotional divorce in Iranian context.

Methods: Five hundred twenty people visiting Kerman referral hospitals (in Iran)were asked to participate in this study. A questionnaire consisting of four sections was completed. Two questionnaires, one of which had 24 questions and the other one was made up of 1 question, measured emotional divorce. Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale constituted the third part, and the fourth part included demographic questions. To assess the reliability, Cronbach's alpha and corrected item-total correlation were calculated. Known group comparisons, concurrent validity and factorial validity methods were used to evaluate the validity.

Results: A total of 466 people were analyzed (89.6%). Of them, 258 were female (55.4%). The mean (±SD) age of participants was 35.2 ± 9.6. The Cronbach's alpha was 0.94 for the 24-item questionnaire; corrected item-total correlation was higher than 0.3 for all questions. Using the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale, the correlation coefficient of the 24-item and 1-item questionnaires was -0.74 and -0.53 respectively. Factor analysis yielded a single factor structure for the 24-item questionnaire. The Factor loading all items was higher than 0.3.

Conclusions: Both questionnaires had acceptable psychometric properties. Since the single-item questionnaire is short and has a pragmatic definition, it may be used to assess the prevalence of emotional divorce in the society.

Keywords: Marital satisfaction; Divorce; Questionnaire; Iran


Concerning the increasing trend of modernization and individualism, divorce has increased in many countries, including Iran [1]. Moreover, the relationship between marital dissolution and different aspects of health has been confirmed by researchers [2]. Social consequences and the devastating effects of divorce on children and future generations have also been taken into consideration [3]. Divorce acts as a barometer which reflects the social changes; therefore, being aware of divorce and its earlier stages have been taken into account by family scholars and sociologists in recent decades [4].

According to the "trajectory to divorce" theory, people who get a legal divorce are those who have experienced an unhappy marriage before [5]. Although marital dissatisfaction is necessary for divorce, marital dissatisfaction even in severe cases does not lead to divorce [5]. A couple may continue to live together (especially in Asian countries) despite cold relationships and different reasons, including concerns about the devastating effects of divorce on children, the pressures of society and the shame of divorce [6]. According to Bohannan, before a couple get a legal divorce, they experience several stages; the first stage which leads to divorce is the emotional divorce [7]. Emotional divorce is mainly seen in non-Western countries because cultural barriers and factors causing people to live together despite dissatisfaction is highlighted more in Asian countries including Iran [6].

Measuring marital satisfaction and marital dissolution can pursue two objectives. One of them is related to counseling and family therapy in order to determine a plan for therapeutic interventions and counselling; to do this, it is necessary to use questionnaires with detailed questions in counseling centers (theoretical questions) [8]. The second one is related to the empirical or practical aspects of evaluation (empirical questions); it is used for epidemiological studies and to identify its frequency in the society [9].

Some researchers believe that the prevalence of emotional divorce is more than that of the legal divorce in Iran (14); they divide the divorce into explicit divorce (legal divorce) and hidden or silent divorce (emotional divorce). The Gottman questionnaire is the most widely used questionnaire which assesses emotional divorce in Iran. It includes 24 yes-no questions [10] whose reliability has been approved implicitly as a byproduct in Iranian studies [11]. However, there is no study which can primarily evaluate its psychometric features.

Experts of measuring marital satisfaction recommend that it is better to use short questionnaires, for epidemiological purposes, so as to increase the quality of data [8]. Making use of single-question questionnaires is common practice in different health areas such as sleep [12] and physical activity [13].

This study pursued two goals; to assess the reliability and validity of the Persian version of the questionnaire commonly used in Iranian studies (i.e., the 24-item questionnaire) and to evaluate the psychometric properties of the proposed single-item questionnaire.

Materials and Methods

This study was conducted in Kerman, one of the metropolises in southeastern Iran. The study protocol was approved by the ethics committee; the participants were told about the anonymous questionnaires. After the informed consent was obtained, the participants were enrolled. The sampling framework included visitors of the patients hospitalized in three referral hospitals in Kerman. In a private place, the participants were asked to complete the questionnaire. The inclusion criterion was marriage. Previous studies have shown that respondents in this setting could, to a large extent, be similar to the population-based studies [14,15]. They were given a questionnaire consisting of four sections. The first part was the Persian version of the Gottman emotional divorce questionnaire; if the participants had more than 8 positive answers, they were at the “end of the distance and isolation cascade or emotional divorce” [10] or “at risk of emotional divorce” (11).The second part was a single item about the emotional divorce using an empirical definition: “although my spouse and I live under the same roof, we have no relationship”. This definition was taken from the relevant studies which had present edit [6,14,16]. The third part consisted of the Kansas marital satisfaction questionnaire (a 3-item questionnaire with a 7-point Likert scale) whose validity and reliability were confirmed in Persian; the score greater than or equal to 17 meant marital satisfaction [17]. The final part included demographic questions including age, sex, education, duration of marriage. To assess the reliability, Cronbach's alpha and corrected item-total correlation were used. To test the validity, the three concurrent validity (the correlation between emotional divorce questions and marital satisfaction questionnaire), known group comparisons and factorial validity methods were performed using the principle axis method [18]. If the factor loading was higher than 0.3, the questions were kept [19].


Five hundred twenty people were invited to participate in this study. Of them, 491 people completed the questionnaire; 25 were excluded due to unqualified completion. Finally, 466 questionnaires were analyzed (89.6%). Two hundred fifty-eight participants were female (55.4%). The mean (±SD) age of participants was 35.2 ± 9.6 and the mean duration of their marriage was 11.6 ± 9.2.

Table 1 shows the frequency of marital dissatisfaction, emotional divorce based on 24-item scale (i.e., at risk of emotional divorce) and a single-item questionnaire (i.e., living with emotional divorce).