Brief Family Distress Scale

Background:

Researchers and clinicians often require a quick assessment instrument to gauge the magnitude of distress or crisis experience in families. While excellent measures of stress and coping in families exist, we wanted to develop a measure that could quickly convey meaningful information about a family's current crisis situation. The Brief Family Distress Scale (BFDS) was meant to be brief so that even families in severe distress could complete it. The response choices were derived from qualitative interviews with parents of individuals with autism spectrum disorders or Intellectual Disabilities, and it has thus far been used exclusively with this population of families.

Psychometrics:

Responses on the single item scale are positive correlated with caregiver worry, distress, child problem behaviors, and negative life events, and negatively correlated with quality of life, family hardiness, and empowerment (Weiss & Lunsky, 2011).

Author of Tool:

Jonathan A. Weiss; Yona Lunsky

Key references:

Weiss, J. A., & Lunsky, Y. (2011). The brief family distress scale: A measure of crisis in caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20, 521-528.

Primary use / Purpose:

Quickly measures the level of parent or family distress, using a single-item scale. The measure is intended to examine the experience of crisis from the perspective of the caregiver by placing the family’s current experiences on a continuum of distress ranging from low levels of distress to crisis.

Brief Family Distress Scale

Jonathan Weiss, Ph.D., & Yona Lunsky, Ph.D.

On a scale of 1 to 10, please where you and your family currently are right now, in terms of crisis by picking one of the following statements:

1 Everything is fine, my family and I are not in crisis at all
2 Everything is fine, but sometimes we have our difficulties
3 Things are sometimes stressful, but we can deal with problems if they arise
4 Things are often stressful, but we are managing to deal with problems when they arise
5 Things are very stressful, but we are getting by with a lot of effort
6 We have to work extremely hard every moment of every day to avoid having a crisis
7 We won’t be able to handle things soon. If one more thing goes wrong - we will be in c
8 We are currently in crisis, but are dealing with it ourselves
9 We are currently in crisis, and have asked for help from crisis services (Emergency room hospital, community crisis supports)
10 We are currently in crisis, and it could not get any worse

Weiss, J.A., & Lunsky, Y. (2011). The brief family distress scale: A measure of crisis in caregivers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20, 521-­‐528.