Helping Give Away Psychological Science/Spence Children's Anxiety Scale

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The Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS) is a psychological questionnaire designed to identify symptoms of various anxiety disorders, specifically social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder/agorophobia, and other forms of anxiety, in children and adolescents between ages 8 and 15. Developed by Susan H. Spence and available in various languages, the 45 question test can be filled out by the child or by the parent. There is also another 34 question version of the test specialized for children in preschool between ages 2.5 and 6.5. Any form of the test takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

Scoring and interpretation[edit | edit source]

Each question on the test addresses the frequency of certain anxiety symptoms, measured on a 0-3 scale from "never," "sometimes," often," to "always."

Domain breakdown[edit | edit source]

A maximum score of 114 is possible on the child and parent-reported SCAS, and there are six subscales calculated within the final score. The following 38 questions correspond to the following disorders:

  • Separation anxiety: 5, 8, 12, 15, 16, 44
  • Social phobia: 6, 7, 9, 10, 29, 35
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 14, 19, 27, 40, 41, 42
  • Panic disorder/agoraphobia: 13, 21, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, 39
  • Personal injury fears: 2, 18, 23, 25, 33
  • Generalized anxiety: 1, 3, 4, 20, 22, 24

Questions 11, 17, 26, 31, 38, 39, and 43 are filler questions that do not factor in the final or subscale scores.

Although the parent-reported and preschool SCAS have the same subscales as the child-reported SCAS, different questions correspond to different subscales. For the parent SCAS:

  • Separation anxiety: 5, 8, 11, 14, 15, 38
  • Social phobia: 6, 7, 9, 10, 26, 31
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 13, 17, 24, 35, 36, 37
  • Panic disorder/agoraphobia: 12, 19, 25, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34
  • Personal injury fears: 2, 16, 21, 23, 29
  • Generalized anxiety: 1, 3, 4, 18, 20, 22

The preschool SCAS has a maximum score of 112, with the following items:

  • Separation anxiety: 6, 12, 16, 22, 25
  • Social anxiety: 2, 5, 11, 15, 19, 23
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: 3, 9, 18, 21, 27
  • Personal injury fears: 7, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 26
  • Generalized anxiety: 1, 4, 8, 14, 28

Question 29 is not factored in the final or subscale scores.

Interpretation of subscale scores[edit | edit source]

The total score on the SCAS is interpreted in different ways depending on the child's age and gender. On the child-reported SCAS for boys and girls ages 8-11, a total score of 40 and above or 50 and above is classified as elevated levels of anxiety, respectively. For boys and girls ages 12-15, a total score of 33 and above or 39 and above is classified as elevated, respectively.

On the parent-reported SCAS for boys and girls ages 6-11, a total score of 31.4 and above or 33 and above suggests an anxiety disorder, respectively. For boys and girls ages 12-18, a total score of 30.1 and above or 32.2 and above suggests an anxiety disorder, respectively.

On the preschool SCAS, a score of 34 and above is classified as elevated levels of anxiety.