Distress Questionnaire-5 (DQ5)

Usage: No permission required - please cite reference


In the last 30 days:







My worries overwhelmed me

I felt hopeless

I found social settings upsetting

I had trouble staying focused on tasks

Anxiety or fear interfered with my ability to do the things I needed to do at work or at home



The total score on the DQ5 is obtained by summing all of the responses, with “Never” scoring 1, “Rarely” 2, “Sometimes” 3, “Often” 4 and “Always” scoring 5. Total scores will range from 5-25. Scores of 11-14 indicate elevated distress and scores of 14 or higher indicate high psychological distress.


Psychometric properties

The DQ5 has been validated in two community-based sample of Australian adults, with accuracy compared to diagnostic criteria for depression and anxiety disorders.

Accuracy: The DQ5 had sensitivity of 76% and specificity of 89% in identifying clinical caseness for seven common mental health problems. It was significantly more accurate than the K6 and K10 in screening for mental health problems.

Internal consistency: The DQ5 had high internal consistency (Cronbach alpha = 0.86 and 0.91 in two large population-based samples).

Factor structure: Confirmatory factor analysis found good fit to a unidimensional construct reflecting general psychological distress (RMSEA=0.069, CFI=0.993, TLI=0.986). Seventy-five percent of variance was explained by the single factor.


Key references

Batterham PJ, Sunderland M, Carragher N, Calear AL, Mackinnon AJ, Slade T. (2016). The Distress Questionnaire-5: Population screener for psychological distress was more accurate than the K6/K10. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 71, 35-42.

Batterham PJ, Sunderland M, Slade T, Calear AL, Carragher N. (2018). Assessing distress in the community: Psychometric properties and crosswalk comparison of eight measures of psychological distress. Psychological Medicine, 48, 1316-1324.

Updated:  26 July 2023/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  Executive Support Officer