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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Rasch model analysis of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS)

Tracey L Shea1, Alan Tennant2 and Julie F Pallant3*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, P.O. Box 218, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia

2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, D Floor, Martin Wing, The General Infirmary at Leeds, Gt George Street, Leeds, LS1 3EX, UK

3 School of Rural Health, University of Melbourne, 49 Graham Street, Shepparton Victoria 3630, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:21  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-9-21

Published: 9 May 2009

Abstract

Background

There is a growing awareness of the need for easily administered, psychometrically sound screening tools to identify individuals with elevated levels of psychological distress. Although support has been found for the psychometric properties of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS) using classical test theory approaches it has not been subjected to Rasch analysis. The aim of this study was to use Rasch analysis to assess the psychometric properties of the DASS-21 scales, using two different administration modes.

Methods

The DASS-21 was administered to 420 participants with half the sample responding to a web-based version and the other half completing a traditional pencil-and-paper version. Conformity of DASS-21 scales to a Rasch partial credit model was assessed using the RUMM2020 software.

Results

To achieve adequate model fit it was necessary to remove one item from each of the DASS-21 subscales. The reduced scales showed adequate internal consistency reliability, unidimensionality and freedom from differential item functioning for sex, age and mode of administration. Analysis of all DASS-21 items combined did not support its use as a measure of general psychological distress. A scale combining the anxiety and stress items showed satisfactory fit to the Rasch model after removal of three items.

Conclusion

The results provide support for the measurement properties, internal consistency reliability, and unidimensionality of three slightly modified DASS-21 scales, across two different administration methods. The further use of Rasch analysis on the DASS-21 in larger and broader samples is recommended to confirm the findings of the current study.