Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression Scale (CES-D)

Author of Tool: 

Lenore Radloff

Key references: 

Radloff, L.S. (1977) ‘The CES-D scale: A self report depression scale for research in the general population’. Applied Psychological Measurement 1: 385-401.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The CES-D scale is a brief self-report scale designed to measure self-reported symptoms associated with depression experienced in the past week. The items of the scale are symptoms associated with depression which have been used in previously validated longer scales.

Background: 

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression (CES-D) scale includes twenty items comprising six scales reflecting major facets of depression: depressed mood, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, psychomotor retardation, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbance.

Psychometrics: 

The CES-D has been shown to be a reliable measure for assessing the number, types, and duration of depressive symptoms across racial, gender, and age categories (Knight, Williams, McGee & Olaman, 1997; Radloff, 1977; Roberts, Vernon, & Rhoades, 1989). High internal consistency has been reported with Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranging from .85 to .90 across studies (Radloff, 1977).
Concurrent validity by clinical and self-report criteria, as well as substantial evidence of construct validity have been demonstrated (Radloff, 1977). However, there is evidence that the CES-D, while a useful measure of the level of depressive symptoms, may not be a good tool for screening for clinical depression or major depression (Roberts, Vernon, & Rhoades, 1989).

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