Validity and reliability of mental health measures for autistic adults
Autistic people are at higher risk of experiencing mental health conditions such as generalised anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. They are also more likely to experience disability that affects their everyday functioning. It is essential we can recognise these conditions quickly and efficiently so people can get the support they need.
We examined the psychometric properties of a number of different widely used instruments designed to measure these mental health conditions, to see whether they reliably and consistently measured the conditions in autistic adults.
We examined the use of four social anxiety questionnaires in autistic adults, compared to adults with SAD. We found similar results between autistic adults and adults with SAD, suggesting that these questionnaires can be useful for measuring social anxiety symptoms in autistic adults.
Boulton, K. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2021). Social anxiety symptoms in autism spectrum disorder and social anxiety disorder: Considering the reliability of self‐report instruments in adult cohorts. Autism Research, 14(11), 2383-2392.
There is currently limited research identifying reliable and valid self-report measures for disability in the autistic population. We examined the psychometric properties of the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule II (WHODAS-II) from 109 autistic individuals without intellectual disability. Our results suggest that the WHODAS-II is a viable generic self-report measure for disability in autistic individuals.
Park, S. H., Demetriou, E. A., Pepper, K. L., Song, Y. J. C., Thomas, E. E., Hickie, I. B., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2019). Validation of the 36‐item and 12‐item self‐report World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule II (WHODAS‐II) in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 12(7), 1101-1111.
We examined the short version of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) to determine whether it was an accurate way to measure those conditions in autistic adults. Overall, we found that the DASS-21 is a viable self-report screening measure for depression, anxiety, and stress in individuals with ASD and without intellectual disability.
Park, S. H., Song, Y. J. C., Demetriou, E. A., Pepper, K. L., Thomas, E. E., Hickie, I. B., & Guastella, A. J. (2020). Validation of the 21-item Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales (DASS-21) in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Psychiatry Research, 291, 113300.
The Social Functioning Scale (SFS) is used to measure social functioning in clinical populations where people are experiencing significant social challenges. However, we found that the SFS was not an accurate way to measure social function in autistic adults, and that alternative scales or significant other reports may be required instead.
Chan, E. H., Kong, S. D., Park, S. H., Song, Y. J., Demetriou, E. A., Pepper, K. L., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2019). Validation of the social functioning scale: Comparison and evaluation in early psychosis, autism spectrum disorder and social anxiety disorder. Psychiatry research, 276, 45-55.