Development and assessment of brief versions of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire and the Ruminative Response Scale

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ObjectivesWorry and depressive rumination have been found to be involved in the onset and maintenance of a range of psychological disorders. The development of brief screening measures for excessive worry and depressive rumination is therefore desirable to facilitate the assessment of worry and rumination in prevention and treatment settings where routine administration of full questionnaires is not practical due to time-related constraints.Design and methodsUsing the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ) and the Ruminative Response Scale (RRS) as gold standard starting points, brief versions of these measures were developed in a large sample of adolescents (N = 1,952) and results were cross-validated in two independent samples (N = 1,954; N = 457).ResultsThe brief versions demonstrated acceptable to high internal consistency (brief PSWQ: α = .84–.91; brief RRS: α = .78–.81) and correlated highly with the full questionnaires (brief PSWQ: r = .91–.94; brief RRS: r = .88–.91). In addition, they showed high sensitivity (brief PSWQ: .90–.92; brief RRS: .90–.93), and high specificity (brief PSWQ: .88–.90; brief RRS: .80–.87) to detect excessive worry and rumination. The validity of the brief measures was further supported by demonstrating that the brief measures showed similar differences in scores between males and females as the full measures as well as substantial relationships to other measures of repetitive negative thinking and symptom measures of anxiety and depression. Finally, the brief measures predicted future symptoms of anxiety and depression.ConclusionsThe brief versions of the PSWQ and RRS are time-efficient and valid instruments for the screening of worry and depressive rumination. Their use in clinical practice is recommended to inform treatment and/or to select individuals at risk for development of psychological disorders who may benefit from preventive interventions.Practitioner pointsThe newly developed brief PSWQ and brief RRS are valid, internally reliable measures that show high diagnostic efficiency to detect excessive worry and depressive rumination.The brief PSWQ and brief RRS are time-efficient instruments that can be used to determine whether a focus on reducing worry and depressive rumination during treatment is indicated.The brief PSWQ and brief RRS can be used for large-scale screening purposes to identify individuals eligible for targeted prevention programmes.A potential limitation is that items of the brief RRS have depressive item content which may inflate the observed association with depression.Future research is needed to assess the quality of the brief PSWQ and the brief RRS in broader community and clinical samples.

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