DASS-21 Scoring template and interpretation

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The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) [467] has been shown to be a valid and reliable measure of the dimensions of depression, anxiety, and stress  separately but also taps into a more general dimension of psychological distress [468, 469]. The DASS is available in two forms: the DASS-21 and the DASS-42. The use of either test is sufficient in the screening process (i.e., the use of both is unnecessary). The two forms have 21 and 42 items respectively and are each rated on a 4-point scale of how much each particular statement applies to the person. The DASS is a self-report instrument, and no special skills are required to administer or score it. However, decisions based on particular score profiles should be made only by experienced clinicians who have carried out an appropriate clinical examination [467]. Nevertheless, it is a useful tool for screening and assessment.

For all questions, the client circles the answer truest to them in the past week. Scores are summed for each scale (D = Depression, A = Anxiety, S = Stress), and the total for each scale multiplied by 2. A guide to interpreting DASS scores is provided in Table 67.

Currently, no studies have been conducted to validate the DASS as a measure of anxiety among people with AOD use disorders. However, one study has shown that the DASS can reliably screen for depression symptoms among people seeking treatment for AOD use [470]. Similarly, another study has shown that the DASS can be used as a reliable screen for symptoms of PTSD among people with AOD use disorders [471].

Table 67: Interpreting DASS scores

Depression Anxiety Stress
Normal 0-9 0-7 0-14
Mild 10-13 8-9 15-19
Moderate 14-20 10-14 19-25
Severe 21-27 15-19 26-33
Extremely severe 28+ 20+ 34+

Adapted from: Lovibond SH, & Lovibond PF. (1995). Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (2nd. ed). Sydney, Australia: Psychology Foundation.

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