Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (Children Version)
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About Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (Children Version)
The scale assesses six domains of anxiety including generalized anxiety, panic/agoraphobia, social phobia, separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and physical injury fears. It is designed to be relatively easy and quick for children to complete, normally taking only around 10 minutes to answer the questions. Young people are asked to rate the degree to which they experience each symptom on a 4-point frequency scale.
This measure consists of 44 items, of which 38 reflect specific symptoms of anxiety and 6 relate to positive, filler items to reduce negative response bias. Of the 38 anxiety items, 6 reflect separation anxiety, 6 social phobias, 6 obsessive-compulsive problems, 6 panic/3 agoraphobia, 6 generalized anxiety/overanxious symptoms, and 5 items concern fears of physical injury. Items are randomly allocated within the questionnaire. Children are asked to rate on a 4 point scale involving never (0), sometimes (1), often (2), and always (3), the frequency with which they experience each symptom. The instructions state “Please put a circle around the word that shows how often each of these things happens to you. There are no right and wrong answers”. There are six positively worded filler items.
Development of the Scale
The items were selected from an initial pool of 80 items generated to reflect a broad spectrum of anxiety symptoms. The items were selected from a review of existing literature, clinical experience of 4 clinical psychologists who specialized in anxiety disorders, existing child anxiety assessment measures, structured clinical interviews, and the DSM diagnostic criteria. Items were deleted if they clearly pertained to a specific traumatic event or medical condition. The final 38 items were selected following extensive pilot testing. Greater detail regarding the development of the scale is provided in two published papers ( Spence, 1997; Spence, 1998 – see articles page).
Uses of the Scale
Clinical purposes: The scale has been widely used in clinical contexts for both assessment and therapy evaluation purposes. The SCAS is not intended as a diagnostic instrument when used in isolation. Rather it is designed to provide an indication of the nature and extent of anxiety symptoms to assist in the diagnostic process. It is recommended that clinicians use the scale in partnership with a structured clinical interview. In addition to normative data, T-Scores have been developed to assist the clinician in determining whether anxiety symptoms are elevated above what would be regarded as normal levels within the community. The scale is sensitive to treatment outcome and may be used to evaluate the impact of therapy on anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents.
Community screening and prevention: The scale has also been used for the identification of children at risk of developing anxiety problems and for monitoring the outcome of interventions to prevent the development of anxiety.
The scale is completed by asking the child to read and follow the instructions on the printed form. The child is asked to rate on a 4-point scale: ‘never’, ‘sometimes’, ‘often’, or ‘always’ to indicate how often each of the items happens to them. There is no set time period over which the judgment has to be made. The response is made by circling the appropriate frequency word.
Only the 38 anxiety items are scored.
The responses are scored:
Never = 0
Sometimes = 1
Often = 2
Always = 3
This yields a maximum possible score of 114.
Total Score Calculation
The total score is the sum of items 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 + 16 + 18 + 19 + 20 + 21 + 22 + 23 + 24 + 25 + 27 + 28 + 29 + 30 + 32 + 33 + 34 + 35 + 36 + 37 + 39 + 40 + 41 + 42 + 44.
Alternatively, the Total Score may be computed by adding together all the subscale scores.
The sub-scale scores are computed by adding the individual item scores on the set of items as follows:
|Physical injury fears||+2||+18||+23||+25||+33
The positive filler items that are not scored in either the total score or the subscale scores include item numbers 11, 17, 26, 31, 38, and 43.
Because the font sizes and layout tend to change when printed out from different computers a fixed scoring template is not provided. These may be developed by the practitioner using a plain acetate sheet to overlay on top of the printed survey to assist in scoring.
Alternatively scores 0 to 3 may be entered into a spreadsheet for computing purposes.
The following SPSS code may be useful:-
COMPUTE totalscas =SUM(scas1,scas2,scas3,scas4,scas5,scas6,scas7,scas8,
COMPUTE scassep = SUM(scas5,scas8,scas12,scas15,scas16,scas44) .
COMPUTE scassoc = SUM(scas6,scas7,scas9,scas10,scas29,scas35) .
COMPUTE scasocd = SUM(scas14,scas19,scas27,scas40,scas41,scas42) .
COMPUTE scaspanicag = SUM(scas13,scas21,scas28,scas30,scas32,scas34,scas36,scas37,scas39) .
COMPUTE scasphysinj = SUM(scas2,scas18,scas23,scas25,scas33) .
COMPUTE scasgad = SUM(scas1,scas3,scas4,scas20,scas22,scas24) .
The following papers provide useful information about the development and properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale:
- Spence, S.H. (1997). Structure of anxiety symptoms among children: A confirmatory factor-analytic study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106(2), 280-297.
- Spence, S.H. (1998). A measure of anxiety symptoms among children. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36 (5), 545-566.
- Spence, S.H., Barrett, P.M., & Turner, C.M. (2003). Psychometric properties of the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale with young adolescents. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 17(6), 605-625.
- For more information and detail visit the official website: https://www.scaswebsite.com
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