Mood and Feelings Questionnaire-Short Form (MFQ-SF)

Assessment Rating:
A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated
See entire scale

Adrian Angold and Elizabeth J. Costello

Description / Purpose:

The MFQ Short Form (MFQ-SF) is a screener for depression in children and adolescents

Note: The MFQ-SF was not responsive to the CEBC's inquiry. The following information was obtained from publicly available sources.

The MFQ-SF is a 13-item questionnaire based on DSM-III-R criteria for depression. The MFQ-SF consists of a series of descriptive phrases regarding how the subject has been feeling or acting recently. Codings reflect whether the phrase was descriptive of the subject most of the time, sometimes, or not at all in the past two weeks.

Target Population: Children and adolescents ages 8-18

Time to Administer: 5 minutes

Completed By: Child, parent

Modalities Available: Pen and paper

Scoring Information: Each item is to be rated on a 3-point Likert scale: "true", "sometimes true", and "not true" with respect to the events of the past two weeks.

Languages Available: English

Training Requirements for Intended Users: None stated

Availability: Free to download on Duke University website:

Contact Information

Company: Duke University
Name: Brian Small
Phone: (919) 687-4686

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 2 or more published, peer-reviewed studies that have established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Show relevant research...

Angold, A., Costello, E. J., Messer, S. C., Pickles, A., Winder, F., & Silver, D. (1995) The development of a short questionnaire for use in epidemiological studies of depression in children and adolescents. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 5, 237 - 249.


Participants — 173 children and adolescents, aged 8–16 years old

Race/Ethnicity — 76% White, 21% Black, 3% Missing information


This study examined the psychometric properties of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire  Short Form (MFQ-SF). Results showed substantial correlations between the MFQ-SF, the Children's Depression Inventory and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC). The MFQ-SF successfully discriminated the subjects in the psychiatric group from pediatric controls. Within the pediatric group, the MFQ-SF discriminated DISC-diagnosed subjects with depressive disorder from non-depressed subjects. Exploratory factor analyses, along with a high internal consistency, suggest that the MFQ-SF was a unifactorial scale.

Messer, S. C., Angold, A., Costello, E.J., Loeber, R., Van Kammen, W., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1995). Development of a short questionnaire for use in epidemiological studies of depression in children and adolescents: Factor composition and structure across development. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 5, 251-262.


Participants — Three cohorts of approximately 500 boys each who were in grades 1, 4 or 7 at the start of the study.

Race/Ethnicity — 50% African-American, 50% Caucasian


This study examined the factor composition of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire Short Form (MFQ-SF). Confirmatory factor analyses were computed to evaluate the age-invariance of a single factor MFQ-SF structure. Results provided strong support for the unidimensional structure of the MFQ-SF across Grades 1–10 in a large sample of boys. Factor loading correlations across age groups were substantial suggesting developmental continuity in item salience for the latent variable of depression. The magnitude of the mean factor loadings increased with age, suggesting that the depression construct was measured with less error as subjects matured.

Thapar, A., & McGuffin, P. (1998). Validity of the shortened Mood and Feelings Questionnaire in a community sample of children and adolescents: a preliminary research note. Psychiatry Research, 81(2), 259-268.


Participants — Twins, aged between 8 and 16 years, and their parent

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


This study examined the relationship between symptom scores obtained using the MFQ-SF and psychiatric disorders in a non-clinical sample. Seventy-eight parents and 71 twins, who had completed the MFQ-SF, were interviewed separately using a semistructured diagnostic interview, the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment. Parent-rated MFQ-SF scores (MFQ-SF-P) were found to distinguish those with ICD-10 (point biserial correlation=0.345) and DSM-III-R depression (point biserial correlation=0.369) from non-depressed cases. MFQ-SF-P scores also differentiated depressed cases from those with `other psychiatric diagnoses' (any anxiety disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder, hyperkinetic disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adjustment disorder/post-traumatic disorder). The MFQ-SF-P at the chosen cut-off point showed a sensitivity of 0.75 and specificity of 0.73 for an ICD-10 diagnosis of depression and a sensitivity of 0.86 and specificity of 0.87 for DSM-III-R depression. The number of self-rated reports (MFQ-SF-C) was small, but overall the results suggest that self-rated MFQ-SF scores may show less specificity. The MFQ-SF-C at the selected cut-off point showed a sensitivity of 0.6 and specificity of 0.61 for ICD-10 depression, and a sensitivity of 0.75 and specificity of 0.74 for DSM-III-R depression.

Kuo, E. S., Vander Stoep, A., & Stewart, D. G. (2005). Using the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire to detect depression in detained adolescents. Assessment, 12(4), 374-383.


Participants — a representative sample of 228 adolescents (ages 13-17) detained at King County, WA Juvenile Detention Center.

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


This study examined the utility of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ) for screening youth in juvenile justice settings for depression. Internal reliability coefficient for the MFQ short form (MFQ-SF) is α = .87. Factor analysis produces a unifactorial scale with item loadings of .43 to .78. At MFQ-SF cutoff ≥10, sensitivity and specificity are optimized at 1.00/0.79. Prevalence of major depressive disorder is estimated at 32.1% (95% Confidence Interval = 25.3% to 39.2%). The MFQ-SF shows potential for depression screening of detained adolescents.

Sharp, C., Goodyer, I. M., & Croudace, T. J. (2006). The Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ): a unidimensional item response theory and categorical data factor analysis of self-report ratings from a community sample of 7-through 11-year-old children. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 34(3), 365-377.


Participants — 2950 children (ages 7- 11 years old, primary school years 3–6) of 16 primary schools from a mixed catchment of rural and urban areas in Cambridgeshire, England

Race/Ethnicity — 97% white, 2% of middle-eastern origin, 0.5% black and 0.5% Asian


This study provides the first combined Item response theory (IRT) and categorical data factor analysis (CDFA) analysis of the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire Short FormMFQ-SF in a community sample of 7-through 11-year-old children. Both latent variable models supported the internal construct validity of a single underlying continuum of severity of depressive symptoms. MFQ-SF items discriminated well at the more severe end of the depressive latent trait. Item performance was not affected by age, although age correlated significantly with latent MFQ-SF scores suggesting that symptom severity increased within the age period of 7–11. These results extend existing psychometric studies of the MFQ-SF and confirm its scaling properties as a potential dimensional measure of symptom severity of childhood depression in community samples.

Katon, W., Russo, J., Richardson, L., McCauley, E., & Lozano, P. (2008). Anxiety and depression screening for youth in a primary care population. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 8(3), 182-188.


Participants — 1,375

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


This study tested the psychometric properties of two brief mental health screening questionnaires, the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire – Short Form (MFQ-SF) and Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), in a large sample of youth. Both demonstrate very good internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.88) and using cut points of ≥4 for the MFQ-SF and ≥13 for the ASI, both demonstrate good sensitivity and specificity (ROC area approximately 0.80) for ≥1 anxiety or depression diagnoses based on the C-DISC. Results indicate both the MFQ-SF and ASI performed well on ROC analysis or screening youth for one or more DSM-IV anxiety or depressive disorders. The MFQ-SF performed better on ROC analysis than the ASI for youth with major depression (area under the curve of 0.84 vs 0.77). For screening youth with anxiety disorders ROC curves showed that both the MFQ-SF and ASI only performed in the fair range (area under the curve of 0.76).

Date Reviewed: February 2015 (Originally reviewed in February 2015)