Brief Family Distress Scale


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.


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 families 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.


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



PDF iconbrief_family_distress_scale.pdf

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):


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