Penn State Worry Questionnaire for Children (PSWQ-C)

Penn State Worry Questionnaire for Children (PSWQ-C)


Developed in America, the Penn State Worry Questionnaire for Children (PSWQ-C) (Chorpita et al., 1997) is one of the most widely used instruments for assessing general characteristics of worry in children and adolescence aged 7 to 17. More specifically the PSWQ-C measures the tendency of youth to engage in excessive, generalized and uncontrollable worry (Muris, Meesters & Gobel, 2001). The PSWQ-C is a modified version of the PSWQ which was developed by Meyer et al., (1990) to assess worry in adults. Like the original instrument, the PSWQ-C is administered using self-report, however the Likert rating scale was reduced from being 5 to 4-point and the wording of nine of the original items was modified to make them more developmentally appropriate and readable for children at the second-grade level and above. For example, the item “I find it easy to dismiss worrisome thoughts” was reworded to “I find it easy to stop worrying when I want” (Chorpirta et al., 1997). Moreover, psychometric analysis of the original PSWQ-C on a community sample of school students lead to the elimination of two or the 16 items, the revised version of the PSWQ-C thus contains only 14 items, with 3 of the items being reversed scored. Examples of items from the PSWQ-C include:


“My worries really bother me”

“I don’t really worry about things.” [negatively scored]

“I know I shouldn’t worry but I just can’t help it.”

Respondents are asked to rate how often each item applies to them by choosing from a 4-point Likert scale consisting of never (0), sometimes (1), often (2) and always (3). The scores from each item are summed together to yield a total score that ranges from 0-42, with higher scores reflecting higher levels of worry (Chorpita et al., 1997).

The PSWQ-C has shown sound psychometric properties in both community samples (Chorpita et al., 1997; Muris, Messters & Gobel, 2001) and clinical samples (Chorpita et al., 1997; Pestle, Chorpita & Schiffman, 2008). PSWQ-C has also been found to have good internal reliability, with Cronbach alpha coefficients ranging from .89 (Chorpita et al., 1996) to .91 (Pestle, Chorpita & Schiffman, 2008) for community samples and a Cronbach alpha coefficient of .82 for a large clinical sample (Muris, Messters & Gobel, 2001) (Table 1). In both community and clinical samples, the PSWQ-C has shown high convergent validity with other assessment measurements for worry including the worry/oversensitive measure of the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS) (Chorpita et al., 1997), Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) (Chorpita et al., 1997) and the revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) (Pestle, Chorpita & Schiffman, 2008). The PSWQ-C has also demonstrated favourable test-retest reliability; re-test after 1 and 3 weeks test-retest correlation coefficient of r=.92 (Chorpita et al., 1997), r = .83 (Kang, Shin & Song, 2010) respectively. Finally, the PSWQ-C has demonstrated to be valid in cross cultural populations, yielding good psychometric properties in community samples in France (Gosselin, Trembley, Dugas & Ladouceur, 2002) Denmark (Esbjørn, Reinholdt-DunneCaspersen, Christensen, & Chorpita, 2013) and Korea (Kang, Shin & Song, 2010).

The PSWQ-C is available to for research and professional use and can be found online: The PSWQ-C manual which includes rating scales, scoring instructions and norm tables can be obtained free of charge, by contacting Bruce F. Chorpita.


Chorpita, B. F., Tracey, S. A., Brown, T. A., Collica, T. J., & Barlow, D. H. (1997). Assessment of worry in children and adolescents: An adaptation of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. Behaviour Research and Therapy35(6), 569-581.

Esbjørn, B. H., Reinholdt-Dunne, M. L., Caspersen, I. D., Christensen, L. B., & Chorpita, B. F. (2013). Penn State Worry Questionnaire: Findings form normative and clinical samples in Denmark. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment35(1), 113-122. doi: 10.1037/h0086923

Gosselin, P., Tremblay, M., Dugas, M. J., & Ladouceur, R. (2002). Les inquiétudes chez les adolescents: Propriétés psychométriques de la version français du Penn State Worry Questionnaire for Children. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne43(4), 270. doi:10.1037/h0086923

Kang, S. G., Shin, J. H., & Song, S. W. (2010). Reliability and validity of the Korean version of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire in primary school children. Journal of Korean medical science25(8), 1210-1216. doi:10.3346/jkms.2010.25.8.1210

Muris, P., Meesters, C., & Gobel, M. (2001). Reliability, validity, and normative data of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire in 8–12-yr-old children. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry32(2), 63-72.

Pestle, S. L., Chorpita, B. F., & Schiffman, J. (2008). Psychometric properties of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire for children in a large clinical sample. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology37(2), 465-471. doi:10.1080/15374410801955896