Adapted GAD-7 and PHQ-9 measures of anxiety and depression

People with learning disabilities often have more mental health problems than the general population, yet they are underrepresented in mainstream psychological services. They face many barriers to getting help for problems such as feeling sad (depression) and feeling worried (anxiety). One barrier is the lack of adapted materials, like questionnaires, for helping people with learning disabilities. Questionnaires are often used in services that help people with mental health problems to assess if they have problems with feeling sad or worried and the questionnaires help to check if people are getting better. Psychological services (e.g. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) have a legal responsibility to ensure people with protected characteristics, as outlined in the Equality Act, have equal access to care. Services are required to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ to ensure people with protected characteristics are not discriminated against.

Adapted measures for depression (adapted PHQ-9) and anxiety (adapted GAD-7) have been made for people with learning disabilities providing a reasonable adjustment. The questionnaires are accessible and easy to complete by adults with ID. We have done some research aimed to make sure the questionnaires were reliable and measured what they were supposed to measure (that they were valid).

The adapted PHQ-9 and GAD-7 appear valid and reliable measures to use in routine clinical practice. The measures provide a reasonable adjustment to the minimum dataset that must be routinely collected in IAPT services and will help contribute to providing adults with learning disabilities equal access to mainstream psychological services.

What next?

The adapted PHQ-9 and GAD-7 are freely available to use. We are sharing our findings with mental health services and with researchers and hope the questionnaires will be regularly used in mental health services.

Please contact us if you want to find out more:

Hannah Jenkins, Clinical Psychologist

Kate Theodore, Clinical Psychologist & Senior Lecturer, Royal Holloway University of London


We want to thank everyone who helped with the research.

The research took part as part of Hannah Jenkin’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford

Hi Kate T thanks for posting this nice piece of work. Leslie