Overview

The Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ) was developed by Adrian Angold and Elizabeth J. Costello in 1987 (Angold et al., 1995; Costello & Angold, 1988). The MFQ consists of a series of 33 descriptive phrases regarding how the subject has been feeling or acting recently. It is a screening tool for depression in children and young people aged 6 to 19.

Psychometric properties

Peer-reviewed studies have found the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire to be a reliable and valid measure of depression in children in both clinical and non-clinical samples (Burleson Daviss et al., 2006; Sund et al., 2001; Wood et al., 1995).

Property

Definition

MFQ

Internal consistency

Whether several items that propose to measure the same general construct produce similar score.

Thabrew et al. (2018) reported Cronbach’s alphas of .91 and above in a New Zealand sample, indicating excellent internal consistency.

Test-retest reliability

Degree to which the same respondents have the same score after a period when a trait should not have changed.

In a Swedish sample, the test-retest reliability of the questionnaire was high after a three-week period (0.84, p < 0.01) and a three-month period (0.80, p < 0.01; Sund et al., 2001).

Convergent validity

Degree to which two measures of constructs that theoretically should be related, are in fact related.

The MFQ was significantly correlated with the Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (r = .62, p < .001) and the Pediatric Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (r = −.73, p < .001) in the study by Thabrew et al. (2018).

Concurrent validity

If a measure correlates well with a measure that has previously been validated.

Thabrew et al. (2018) indicated strong correlations between the MFQ and the Children's Depression Rating Scale—Revised, as well as with the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale 2.

Thabrew et al. (2018) also showed that the MFQ had good content validity and criterion validity.

Translation

The MFQ child self-report (long version) has been translated into Arabic, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Norwegian, but testing of these versions is more limited.

The short version of the MFQ child self-report is available in Arabic, Filipino, Finnish, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Norwegian.

Administration

The MFQ exists in six versions: child self-report, parent-report and adult self-report, with each questionnaire available in a long and short version (33 or 13 questions). All questionnaires can be found here. The MFQ is free to download.

Respondents are asked whether descriptions in the questionnaire are ‘true’, ‘sometimes true’ or ‘not true’ for them over the past two weeks.

The MFQ was originally designed for use with 8-to 18-year olds but has been validated with children and young people aged between 6 and 19.

Scoring and interpretation

The MFQ is scored by summing together the point values of responses for each item. The response choices and their designated point values are as follows:

"not true" = 0 points
"sometimes true" = 1 point
"true" = 2 points

Higher scores on the MFQ suggest more severe depressive symptoms.

  • Scores on the short version of the MFQ range from 0 to 26. Scoring a 12 or higher on the short version may indicate the presence of depression in the respondent.
  • Scores on the long version range from 0 to 66. Scoring 27 or higher on the long version may indicate the presence of depression in the respondent.

However, there are no prescribed cut-points for any version the MFQ since there is no single cut-point that is best for use in all circumstances. The author provides a list of publications for determining appropriate cut-points in different circumstances, which is recommended reading when setting a cut-point for your use.

Terms of use

The MFQ is free to download as a PDF for administering to clients, or for research purposes. The authors ask that they are cited in any published work.

Further information

Please direct questions about the MFQ to Brian Small brian.small@dm.duke.edu

References

Angold, A., Costello, E. J., Messer, S. C., Pickles, A., Winder, F., & Silver, D. (1995). Development of a short questionnaire for use in epidemiological studies of depression in children and adolescents (Vol. 5, pp. 237–249).

Burleson Daviss, W., Birmaher, B., Melhem, N. A., Axelson, D. A., Michaels, S. M., & Brent, D. A. (2006). Criterion validity of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire for depressive episodes in clinic and non-clinic subjects. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 47(9), 927–934. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01646.x

Costello, E. J., & Angold, A. (1988). Scales to Assess Child and Adolescent Depression: Checklists, Screens, and Nets. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-198811000-00011

Sund, A. M., Larsson, B., & Wichstrøm, L. (2001). Depressive symptoms among young Norwegian adolescents as measured by the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ). European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 10(4), 222–229. https://doi.org/10.1007/s007870170011

Thabrew, H., Stasiak, K., Bavin, L. M., Frampton, C., & Merry, S. (2018). Validation of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ) and Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) in New Zealand help-seeking adolescents. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 27(3), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.1610

Wood, A., Kroll, L., & Moore, A. (1995). Properties of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in Adolescent Psychiatric Outpatients: A Research Note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.1995.tb01828.x

 

Please note that the information on this page was last updated in January 2020. 

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