The Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS; Chorpita, Yim, Moffitt, Umemoto & Francis, 2000) is a 47-item self report measure which assesses the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms in youth aged 8-18 years. The RCADS was developed in Hawaii, United States and is partly a revision of Spence’s Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS; 1997). The measure has a parent-version form as well as a short-form (RCADS-25; Ebesutani et al., 2012). The RCADS is composed of 6 scales, 5 of which are related to anxiety (separation anxiety disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder) and another one related to major depressive disorder. The scales are aligned with anxiety and depression diagnosis criteria in the DSM-IV. Individuals rate their answers on a 4-point likert scale ranging from “never” to “always”. The results can be scored manually or via the scoring software created by the authors. In terms of results, T-scores greater than 65 are borderline clinically significant whereas those above 75 are clinically significant. These T-scores indicate that the individual’s responses reflect anxiety and depression-related symptoms very similar to those of individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for that particular disorder or syndrome.
The RCADS has good internal consistency with Cronbach alpha values ranging from .78 for social anxiety disorder to .88 for panic disorder in a clinical population (Chorpita, Moffitt & Gray, 2005) as well as acceptable internal consistency in the general population (Chorpita et al.,2000). Furthermore, the measure has good convergent validity with similar measures such as the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS; Reynolds & Richmond, 1978), the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and interview dimensional ratings (Chorpita et al., 2005). The RCADS also has favourable test-retest reliability for most scales with the social phobia scale being most reliable (0.80) and the obsessive compulsive disorder scale generally being the least reliable (0.65) when tested in a community sample of school children and adolescents (Chorpita et al., 2000). In terms of model fit, a study by Chorpita et al. (2005) using confirmatory factor analysis indicated an adequate model fit for a 6-factor model when compared to a 1 factor and a 2 factor model. The RCADS has been successfully validated in several countries including Australia (de Ross, Gullone & Chorpita,2002), Denmark (Esbjorn, Somhovd, Turnstedt & Reinholdt-Dunne, 2010), the Netherlands (Kosters, Chinapaw, Zwaanswijk, van der Wal & Koot, 2015) and Spain (Sandin, Valiente & Chorot, 2009) in clinical and school-based samples.
The RCADS is available publicly and free of cost from www.childfirst.ucla.edu/resources.html. It can be used for both educational and professional purposes. However, if you want to use this tool for research purposes, permission is required from the authors. It’s a valuable tool for use with youth suspected of having an anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder as its scales reflect DSM-IV criteria and it’s one of the only anxiety measures that also measures depressive symptoms separately. Furthermore, the RCADS has been translated into several languages including Spanish, Chinese and French and due to its cross-cultural validations, it can be used with youth from different cultures. It should be noted that the RCADS is only standardized for grades 3 and above as T-Score conversions have not been developed for children younger than grade three. Therefore, the authors recommend using clinical judgement for interpreting raw scores for these children.
Chorpita, B. F., Yim, L., Moffitt, C., Umemoto, L. A., & Francis, S. E. (2000). Assessment of symptoms of DSM-IV anxiety and depression in children: A revised child anxiety and depression scale. Behaviour research and therapy, 38(8), 835-855.
Ebesutani, C., Reise, S. P., Chorpita, B. F., Ale, C., Regan, J., Young, J., … & Weisz, J. R. (2012). The Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale-Short Version: Scale reduction via exploratory bifactor modeling of the broad anxiety factor. Psychological Assessment, 24(4), 833.
Esbjørn, B. H., Sømhovd, M. J., Turnstedt, C., & Reinholdt-Dunne, M. L. (2012). Assessing the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) in a national sample of Danish youth aged 8–16 years. PLoS One, 7(5), e37339.
Kösters, M. P., Chinapaw, M. J., Zwaanswijk, M., van der Wal, M. F., & Koot, H. M. (2015). Structure, reliability, and validity of the revised child anxiety and depression scale (RCADS) in a multi-ethnic urban sample of Dutch children. BMC psychiatry, 15(1), 132.
Spence, S. H. (1998). A measure of anxiety symptoms among children. Behaviour research and therapy, 36(5), 545-566.