The short-form version of the Depression Anxiety
Stress Scales (DASS-21): Construct validity and
normative data in a large non-clinical sample
Julie D. Henry1 and John R. Crawford2*
1School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Australia
2School of Psychology, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, UK
To test the construct validity of the short-form version of the
Depression anxiety and stress scale (DASS-21), and in particular, to assess whether
stress as indexed by this measure is synonymous with negative affectivity (NA) or
whether it represents a related, but distinct, construct. To provide normative data for
the general adult population.
Design. Cross-sectional, correlational and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA).
Methods. The DASS-21 was administered to a non-clinical sample, broadly
representative of the general adult UK population (N ¼ 1; 794). Competing models
of the latent structure of the DASS-21 were evaluated using CFA.
Results. The model with optimal fit (RCFI ¼ 0.94) had a quadripartite structure,
and consisted of a general factor of psychological distress plus orthogonal specific
factors of depression, anxiety, and stress. This model was a significantly better fit than a
competing model that tested the possibility that the Stress scale simply measures NA.
The DASS-21 subscales can validly be used to measure the
dimensions of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, each of these subscales also
taps a more general dimension of psychological distress or NA. The utility of the
measure is enhanced by the provision of normative data based on a large sample.
Although anxiety and depression are phenomenologically distinct, it has proven very
difficult to distinguish between these constructs by empirical means either using
clinicians’ ratings or self-report measures (Clark & Watson, 1991). It has been suggested
that this is because most existing self-report scales for anxiety and depression
predominantly measure the common factor of negative affectivity (NA; Watson & Cl