A Measurement Invariance Analysis of the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire and Acquired Capability for Suicide Scale in Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults

Mirabel Pelton, Hayley Crawford, Ashley Robertson, Jacqui Rodgers, Simon Baron-Cohen, Sarah Cassidy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Autistic adults are more likely to engage in suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but there is little research to explore the underlying reasons. It is unclear whether self-report suicide scales that have been designed for non-autistic people accurately measure suicide risk constructs in autistic people. Therefore, this study explored, for the first time, whether the measurement properties of the self-report scales of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide are equivalent in autistic and non-autistic adults.

Methods: In this study, responses from 342 autistic and 353 non-autistic people on the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire-10 (INQ-10) and Acquired Capability for Suicide Scale–Fearlessness about Death (ACSS–FAD) were compared by using measurement invariance analysis. Data were gathered through an online cross-sectional survey of the self-report measures.

Results: Results suggest that measurement properties of the INQ-10 were different in autistic people. Autistic characteristics, such as different theory of mind and preference for concrete language, may have led the scale items to load differently on the factors in the autistic group than in the non-autistic group. The measurement properties of the ACSS–FAD were invariant between autistic and non-autistic people.

Conclusions: Scores on the INQ-10 cannot be meaningfully compared between autistic and non-autistic people due to different measurement properties. Future research could explore how autistic people experience the concepts of burdensomeness and belonging, to consider how measures could accurately capture this. This would allow researchers to explore the role of these constructs in the development of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in autistic people. Clinicians should be aware that suicide risk factors may present differently in autistic people. Scores on the ACSS-FAD can be meaningfully compared, but the negatively worded scale items may pose similar response difficulties to autistic and non-autistic people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalAutism in Adulthood
Issue number3
Early online date27 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


M.K.P. is supported by Coventry University and Funds for Women Graduates. S.C. was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Nos. ES/N00501/1 and ES/N000501/2), and Autistica (Grant No. 7247). S.B.-C. was
funded by the Autism Research Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the Templeton World Charitable Foundation, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre in Cambridge, during the period of this work. He also received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking ( JU) under grant agreement no. 777394. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and AUTISM SPEAKS, Autistica, SFARI. His research was also supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East of England at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. H.C.’s research is supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands.


  • suicide
  • measurement
  • interpersonal theory
  • burdensomeness
  • belonging
  • suicidal capability


Dive into the research topics of 'A Measurement Invariance Analysis of the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire and Acquired Capability for Suicide Scale in Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this