Validation of the short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in young adulthood

Olga Eyre, Rhys Bevan Jones, Sharifah Shameem Agha, Robyn E Wootton, Ajay K Thapar, Evie Stergiakouli, Kate Langley, Stephan Collishaw, Anita Thapar, Lucy Riglin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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BACKGROUND: Depression often onsets in adolescence and is associated with recurrence in adulthood. There is a need to identify and monitor depression symptoms across adolescence and into young adulthood. The short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (sMFQ) is commonly used to measure depression symptoms in adolescence but has not been validated in young adulthood. This study aimed to (1) examine whether the sMFQ is valid in young adulthood, and (2) identify cut-points best capturing DSM-5 depression diagnosis at age 25 METHODS: The sample included participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) at age 25 (n = 4098). Receiver Operating Characteristic analyses examined how well the self-rated sMFQ discriminates between cases and non-cases of DSM-5 Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) classified using the self-rated Development and Well Being Assessment. Sensitivity and specificity values were used to identify cut-points on the sMFQ RESULTS: The sMFQ had high accuracy for discriminating MDD cases from non-cases at age 25. The commonly used cut-point in adolescence (≥12) performed well at this age, best balancing sensitivity and specificity. However, a lower cut-point (≥10) may be appropriate when favouring sensitivity over specificity e.g., in context of screening. Sensitivity analyses suggested similar results for males and females LIMITATIONS: ALSPAC is a longitudinal population cohort that suffers from non-random attrition CONCLUSIONS: The sMFQ is a valid measure of depression in young adults in the general population. It can be used to screen for and monitor depression across adolescence and early adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-888
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date29 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
(; The measures used in the paper were specifically funded by the Wellcome Trust (204895/Z/16/Z). RBJ is supported by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales (National Institute for Health Research Fellowship, NIHR-PDF-2018). REW and ES work in a unit that receives funding from the University of Bristol and the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00011/1 and MC_UU_00011/3). REW is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the South-Eastern Regional Health Authority (2020024). This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust (204895/Z/16/Z). For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.

Funding Information:
The UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant ref: 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and Olga Eyre and Lucy Riglin will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Depression
  • sMFQ
  • Validation
  • Young adulthood


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