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Revista chilena de pediatría

Print version ISSN 0370-4106

Rev. chil. pediatr. vol.89 no.1 Santiago Feb. 2018 


Transcultural adaptation and validation of a satisfaction with life scale for Chilean adolescents

Carola A. ÁlvarezA 

Ana M. BriceñoB 

Karla ÁlvarezC 

Marcela AbufheleD 

Iris DelgadoE 

AMD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, School of Medicine Clínica Alemana-Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile & School of Government Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile. Correspondence:

B MD, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, School of Medicine Clínica Alemana-Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile & School of Government Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile.

C Clinical Psychologist, School of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.

D MD, MPH, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Department of Pediatrics, Clinica Alemana de Santiago, School of Medicine Clínica Alemana - Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile.

E Math Professor, School of Medicine Clínica Alemana-Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile.



In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the determinants of subjecti ve well-being and happiness. In that context, life satisfaction is one of the measures used to assess subjective well-being, with emphasis in adult population.


Adapt and validate (cultu rally and linguistically) the Canadian “Satisfaction with Life adapted for Children” (SWLS-C) in Chilean adolescents, in order to assess their global judgement about their own lives.

Patients and Methods:

Cross-sectional study, with adolescents between 10 to 18 years old, of both sexes and three socioeconomic levels in the Metropolitan region of Chile. After a process of translation and back translation, the scale SWLS-C was applied in 3 groups: cognitive interviews (n = 23) to evaluate se mantics, content, reliability and construct validity, a second group was used as pretest (n = 24) and a third for the validation of the test (n = 200). Factor analysis was performed and measurement of convergent and divergent validity.


The internal consistency of the scale through Cronbach’s alpha was 0.815, with item-total correlations between 0.51 and 0.7. The correlation between scale items varies between 0.390 and 0.607. In the main component analysis, all items met the require ment of a factor greater than 0.3. The inverse correlation between SWLS-C and CDI was significant, with a linear R2 of 0.465.


The Chilean version of the SWLS-C shows adequate psycho metric properties, construct validity, confirming its unidimensional character and the need to keep each item of the Canadian version. SWLS-C, in its Chilean version, is suitable to be self-applied in adolescent population. Further studies are needed to provide further evidence.

Keywords: Satisfaction; adolescent; children; scale


Over the last years, the study of subjective well being (SWB) has gained more interest from different disciplines. The United Nations incorporates it as an objective to evaluate human development. From a health perspective, the SWB provides a multidimen sional approach, understanding health as something more than illness absence.

The literature uses diverse concepts related - but not equivalent - to SWB such as Quality of Life (QOL), Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL), Satisfaction With Life (SWL), and Happiness. David, Boniwell and Ayeres2 propose an integrating vision of these concepts.

For this study, it was considered the concept of SWL as “the overall judgment that people make regar ding their own life”3, which is part of SWB in its cogni tive aspect. The relevance of studying SWL in children and adolescents is underpinned by the fact that it cons titutes an SWB indicator and it has been established as an internalizing and externalizing symptoms predic tor, in one or two years4, and also it shows a negative association with psychosocial risk behaviors5,6. Recent longitudinal studies have shown a strong bidirectional causality association between SWL and mental patho logies7.

Due to the fact that study of SWL has been initia lly directed towards adults, the measuring instruments correspond to this age group. It has been mainly as sessed with the Satisfaction with Life Scale-SWLS of Diener3 which has been validated in Chile. The interest in knowing the judgment that children and adolescent themselves make about their own life has gradually increased, despite the evolutionary elements involved9,10.

In Chile, it has also been observed a growing in terest in studying welfare issues in children and ado lescents. For this purpose, instruments such as KIDS- CREEN-2711, KIDSCREEN-5212, How I Feel about Things13 and Subjective Happiness Scale14 have been validated.

Particularly in SWL, the International Survey of Children’s Well-Being (ISCWeB) validated in Chile the scales SLSS, PWI-SC, BMLSS and OLS15,16. Howe ver, these scales are not easily equivalent to SWLS of Diener3 in adults, the most widely used.

The adaptation work of SWLS for the child and adolescent population of Gaderman et al., 200917,18,19, provides an instrument called Satisfaction with Life adapted for Children (SWLS-C) that will allow stud ying the continuum of SWB from childhood-adoles cence to adulthood. Its simple application and low cost favors its use in the clinical research and providing in formation for creating public policies.

The objective of this research was to adapt and con tribute to the validation of this scale in Chilean adoles cents between the ages of 10 and 18.

Patients and Method

The transcultural adaptation and validation pro cess of the SWLS-C scale in Chilean adolescents was performed with a convenience sample of schools and the randomization of classes and participants within each class. The process was carried out with seven edu cational institutions in the Metropolitan Region, be longing to the three types of administration of Chilean education: 2 public schools, 2 private subsidized ones, 2 fee-paying private ones and 1 rural private subsidized school. The inclusion criterion was the age (to be bet ween the ages of 10 and 18), without exclusion criteria.

Within the process, cognitive interviews (CI) were performed with the first group of 23 adolescents (11 female and 12 male). Then, a pilot application was per formed on 24 adolescents (12 male and 12 female), and finally, the instrument to be validated was applied to 200 adolescents (115 female and 85 male).

The attendance at a particular educational institu tion was considered an approximation to the socioeco nomic status (SES) of the adolescent. It was also cons tructed a variable SES based on ADIMARK methodology20. This methodology considers the self-reported information provided by the parents of the education level of the head of household and the family property.

The average age was 13.9 years + 2.2 SD. Data were analyzed according to the type of administration that is defined by the Ministry of Education of Chile. Table 1 shows the sample characteristics according to gender, SES, and type of school.

Table 1 Demographic distribution of the sample and results of scales. 

The Ethics Committee of Clínica Alemana-School of Medicine, Universidad del Desarrollo approved this study. Parents informed consent and the adolescent’s assent were obtained for the three stages of the study.

Scale adaptation and validation process

The process carried out was in accordance with Beaton21 and ITF22 guidelines following the SWLS-C validation process in Canada17,18,19 (figure 1).

Figure 1 Flowchart of the process of adaptation and cross-cultural validation of SWLS-C. 

Two independent translations were performed by native translators, which were then harmonized, and this version was back-translated to the original langua ge by a third translator. Subsequently, it was sent to a committee of experts, made up of five child and ado lescent psychiatrists and psychologists with experien ce in validation of instruments, resulting in a second version that modified 4 out of 5 items. Two child and adolescent psychiatrists, previously trained, conducted CI to 23 adolescents through a protocol that combi nes the technique of think-aloud about the instrument and semi-structured interview23. The interview was in dividual with an average duration of 30 minutes. From this process, it was obtained the third version with the partial modification of two items, which was applied in the pretest (n=24) without requiring new modifi cations.

The test was applied collectively and assisted, under the supervision of a team member. It had an average duration of 40 minutes, including the application of the three instruments mentioned below, in order to as sess convergent validity (with Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale) and divergent validity (with Children’s Depression Inventory).

Without transgressing statistical confidentiality, it was observed that the parents of adolescents with su ggestive scores of depression were confidentially infor med, and a professional evaluation was recommended.

The final version changed the first item from “In most ways, my life is close to my ideal” to “My life is like the life I would like to have”; the second one was changed from “My life is excellent” to “My life is good”. Item 3 had not changed. Item 4 changed from “So far I have gotten the important things I want in my life” to “I have accomplished the important things that I have wanted in my life”, and item 5 changed from “If I could live my life over, I would live it exactly the same way” to “If I could live my life over, I would live it much the same way”.


Satisfaction with Life Scale adapted for Children (SWLS-C): it was adapted and validated in Canada in 200917,18,19, from Diener SWLS3. It contains 5 items with Likert-type responses between 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree), with a score between 5 and 25 points, the higher the score, the higher the SWL. In the original validation, the Cronbach’s alpha was 0.86 and the ordinal coefficient alpha was 0.9.

Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale: This scale was designed by Piers and Harris24 for children and adolescents, then it was adapted and validated for Chile25. Within this process, 3 out of 6 subscales were applied: Happiness and Satisfaction, Self-Concept and Popularity, and Intellectual Self-Concept.

Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI): Created by Kovacs26. Its adaptation was made for Chile in 1991 by Coggiola and Guillon, who provided provisional ru les of the instrument27. Finally, Cáceres and Collado28 standardized it for Chile. CDI has 27 items, with scores between 0 and 54 points, and its cut-off point is over 18 points to suggest risk or suspicion of depression.

Database creation and statistical analysis

A single database was designed for the typing of information from all instruments. For the analysis, the considered patients were those that completed the three instruments of the study.

A descriptive analysis was performed for all varia bles through a frequency description of absolute and relative values for categorical variables. For the conti nuous ones, central position and dispersion statistics were included. Then, it was implemented a bivariate analysis through contingency tables for categorical data, verifying statistical significance through Fisher’s exact test or chi-squared test. In the F-test, theonetailed test was used. In order to study the continuous and categorical variables, it was used the T-test or the analysis of variance (ANOVA) respectively, depending on the variable type.

To verify the association between two continuous variables, it was used the Pearson correlation coeffi cient. The inter-item correlation analysis and the fac tor analysis were performed using a polychoric corre lation matrix, since an ordinal analysis was considered, given the 5 response options. Subsequently, it was used a polyserial correlation matrix to calculate the correc ted item-total correlation, and the Cronbach alpha if each item was deleted. The differences were considered statistically significant with a p < 0.05. All the analysis were made with SPSS version 19.0 software.

The confirmatory factor analysis was performed using the maximum-likelihood (ML) method for or dinal variables of IBM SPSS AMOS 20 software. It was hypothesized a one-factor measurement model that as sumed the existence of a latent variable referred to SWL and in which the measurement errors of each item of this scale were not related to each other. The goodness indices analyzed were: Chi-square, chi-square ratio/ degrees of freedom, Expected Cross-Validation Index (ECVI), Root Mean Square Residual (RMR), Good ness of Fit Index (GFI), Normed Fit Index (NFI), and Non-Normed Fit Index (NNFI).

In order to delve into the analysis of SWL, a di chotomous variable was created considering as “satis fied with life” to all the adolescents who had a score of 20 or higher, and as “unsatisfied with life” to those ones who had less than 20 points. The point was defi ned at 20, since the average value of the distribution of the SWL variable is 20.2, very close to the median (21 points). In addition, using a ROC curve analysis with the dichotomous variable of CDI, it was verified that the value of 20 is the one that delivers a combination of greater sensitivity and specificity.


Table 1 shows the SWL scores by gender, age, SES, and type of school, and table 2 shows the distribution of responses. Significant differences were observed in the average of SWL by gender, with less satisfaction in women than in men. Differences were found by age, with decreasing SWL in the upper age groups. Signifi cant differences were observed neither by SES nor type of school.

Table 2 Items of the SWLS-C, Percentage of Responses. 


The Cronbach alpha (Ca) which indicates the in ternal consistency of the instrument was 0.815, similar to the original instrument17 (0.86), with atotal-item correlation between 0.51 and 0.7. The elimination of any of the 5 items causes the decrease of Ca value, the refore each one contributes to the reliability of the test. (table 3).

Table 3 Correlation matrix between each item of the SWLS-C. 

Convergent and Discriminant Validity

The association between SWLS-C and the Piers- Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale is positive and statistically significant (p < 0.01 (**) bilateral). The results by subscale are of 0.21 for Popularity and Self Esteem subscale; 0.43 for the Intellectual Self-Concept one, and 0.58 in the Happiness one.

An inverse relationship was observed between SWLS-C and CDI analyzed through Pearson’s corre lation coefficient, with a linear R2 of 0.465 (figure 2).

Figure 2 Pearson´s correlation coefficient. 

Factor Structure Analysis

In the exploratory factor analysis, Bartlett’s test of sphericity was 335.96 (p < 0.001), showing that the 5 items were not independent. The Kaiser- Meyer-Olkin ratio was 0.83, pointing that the correlations between pairs of items can be explained by the remaining selected items.

Cattell’s screen test showed that a one-factor mo del was appropriated to present data. The one-factor structure taken explained a 59.2% of the total variance.

Table 3 shows the correlation between the scale items that ranges from 0.39 and 0.61, all of them are statistically significant. The correlation homogeneity indicates the test unidimensionality. In the main com ponent matrix, all items meet the condition of a factor higher than 0.3, being 0.82 for item 1, 0.78 for item 2, and 0.83, 0.67 and 0.74 for items 3, 4 and 5 respectively.

From the confirmatory factor analysis, the ad justment of the one-factor model proposed was appro priate, as indicated by the goodness indices obtained (table 4).

Table 4 Confirmatory factor analysis of the Chilean version of SWLS-C. 

Goodness of fit indices of the confirmatory factor model

According to the chi-square ratio/degrees of free dom (1.9), we observe that the value is far lower than 3 which indicates that the model has a good fit to data. In addition, the average of residual squares is 0.03, far lower than the critical value of 0.10, which shows that the discrepancies between the reproduced and the ob served matrix are not relevant, which means the model fits well. The GFI also shows a good fit due to its proxi mity to value 1, as are the non-normative adjustment indices (or Tucker-Lewis Index) and NFI (delta).

All the items saturations were significant (p < 0,001), between 0.55 and 0.78; being item 4 “I have ac complished the important things that I have wanted in my life” the lowest, and the highest with the same value of 0.78 for item 1 “My life is like the life I would like to have” and item 3 “I am happy with my life”.


In the studied group, most adolescents present high satisfaction with life (SWL), in particular, male adoles cents and those under the age of 14, matching results with literature30,31,32,33. in relation to the type of school and SES, no significant differences were found.

Results show a strong inverse correlation between SWL and risk of depression, which coincides with previous studies30,34. The positive association between SWL and self-esteem shows a weak correlation, as shown in the literature35.

It considers the need for new applications of SWLS-C in order to establish the sensitivity to chan ges (test-retest procedure), which was not performed in this study.

The scale characteristics in terms of being brief, easy to understand and apply, make it a contribution to the repertoire of instruments available in Chile for inclusion in research, clinical practice and pu blic health. The ease of use and cost reduction stand out when compared to much more extensive instru ments, such as the KIDSCREEN (27 or 52 items) and allows comparison of SWL with other life cycle sta ges.

Future applications of SWLS-C in representative samples of adolescents would allow the generation of resources for the implementation and evaluation of public policies aimed at this age group. On the other hand, and because of its predictive potential in mental health, SWLS-C could be incorporated as a new scree ning tool in at-risk populations.

Finally, SWLS-C has provided an opportunity to access to the subjective perceptions of the adolescents about their own lives. This creates new challenges in terms of meeting their interests and needs, which must be considered by the disciplines and institutions linked to the well-being and development of children and adolescents.

From this study, it is obtained the Life Satisfaction Scale for Children (SWLS-C) adapted and validated linguistically and culturally for the Chilean adolescent population, with adequate psychometric properties.

The scale reliability, assessed through the internal consistency analysis, seems to be very good, compara ble to the Canadian version (C =0.86)17. Elimination of any item does not increase consistency, which is con sistent with the studies of Gaderman17,18,19 and Atienza29. It is observed that the item with the highest reliability is the number 3 and the one with the lowest reliability is the number 4, which coincides with the three com parative studies.

Noteworthy is the benefit of using mixed methodo logy (quantitative and qualitative) as a way of enri ching this process. In this study, the CI was decisive in making items modifications of SWLS-C.

Ethical responsibilities

Human Beings and animals protection: Disclosure the authors state that the procedures were followed ac cording to the Declaration of Helsinki and the World Medical Association regarding human experimenta tion developed for the medical community.

Data confidentiality: The authors state that they have followed the protocols of their Center and Local regu lations on the publication of patient data.

Rights to privacy and informed consent: The authors have obtained the informed consent of the patients and/or subjects referred to in the article. This docu ment is in the possession of the correspondence author.

Financial Disclosure: School of Government, Universidad del Desarrollo. Internal research scholarship from the Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile.

Conflicts of Interest: Authors declare no conflict of interest regarding the present study.

Aknowledgments: To Mr. Eugenio Guzmán, Dean and to Mr. Mauricio Bravo, Head of Advanced Medical Education Program, both from the School of Government of Universidad del Desarrollo Santiago, Chile, for their support to this investigation. To Mr. Vicente Zúñiga for his colaboration in field work.


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Received: May 23, 2017; Accepted: October 30, 2017

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