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Exploratory factor analysis and principal component analysis in clinical studies: Which one should you use?
journal contributionposted on 06.09.2021, 03:40 by Mousa Alavi, Denis C Visentin, Deependra K Thapa, Glenn E Hunt, Roger Watson, Michelle L Cleary
Factor analysis covers a range of multivariate methods used to explain how underlying factors influence a set of observed variables. When research aims to identify these underlying factors, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) is used. In contrast, when the aim is to test whether a set of observed variables represents the underlying factors, in accordance with an existing conceptual basis, confirmatory factor analysis is performed. EFA has many similarities with a commonly used data reduction technique called principal component analysis (PCA). These similarities, along with using the related terms factor and component interchangeably, contribute to confusion in analysis. The difficulty in identifying the appropriate use of statistical methods and their application and interpretation impacts clinical and research implications (Beavers et al., 2013; Tabachnick & Fidell, 2001). We acknowledge previous articles in nursing journals offering guidance on the use of factor analysis (Gaskin & Happell, 2014; Watson & Thompson, 2006).