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The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS): detecting anxiety disorder and depression in employees absent from work because of mental health problems
  1. K Nieuwenhuijsen1,
  2. A G E M de Boer1,
  3. J H A M Verbeek1,
  4. R W B Blonk2,
  5. F J H van Dijk1
  1. 1Coronel Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health, Academic Medical Center, AmCOGG, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. 2TNO Work and Employment, Hoofddorp, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Drs K Nieuwenhuijsen, Coronel Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22700, 1100 DD Amsterdam, Netherlands;
 K.Nieuwenhuijsen{at}amc.uva.nl

Abstract

Aims: To (1) evaluate the psychometric properties and (2) examine the ability to detect cases with anxiety disorder and depression in a population of employees absent from work because of mental health problems.

Methods: Internal consistency, construct validity, and criterion validity of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) were assessed. Furthermore, the ability to identify anxiety disorders or depression was evaluated by calculating posterior probabilities of these disorders following positive and negative test results for different cut off scores of the DASS-Depression and DASS-Anxiety subscales.

Results: Internal consistency of the DASS subscales was high, with Cronbach’s alphas of 0.94, 0.88, and 0.93 for depression, anxiety, and stress respectively. Factor analysis revealed a three factor solution, which corresponded well with the three subscales of the DASS. Construct validity was further supported by moderately high correlations of the DASS with indices of convergent validity (0.65 and 0.75), and lower correlations of the DASS with indices of divergent validity (range −0.22 to 0.07). Support for criterion validity was provided by a statistically significant difference in DASS scores between two diagnostic groups. A cut off score of 5 for anxiety and 12 for depression is recommended. The DASS showed probabilities of anxiety and depression after a negative test result of 0.05 and 0.06 respectively. Probabilities of 0.29 for anxiety disorder and 0.33 for depression after a positive test result reflect relatively low specificity of the DASS.

Conclusion: The psychometric properties of the DASS are suitable for use in an occupational health care setting. The DASS can be helpful in ruling out anxiety disorder and depression in employees with mental health problems.

  • CIDI, Composite International Diagnostic Interview
  • DASS, Depression Anxiety Stress Scales
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