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Scoring Instructions

The ACORN questionnaires yield a Global Distress Score (GDS) score by adding the responses on individual items and dividing by the number of nonmissing items on the questionnaires. GDS scores will range from 0, meaning all problems were marked "Rarely" to 4, meaning all problems were marked very "Very often". Questionnaires derived from the PHQ9 and GAD7 are scored in the same manner, though the range of items scores is from 0 to 3.

Since GDS scores are intended to provide simple indices of global distress, the clinician can often interpret the results on the fly simply by mentally estimating the average response and rounding to the nearest whole number.

For more precision, the GDS can be calculated to one decimal point. Calculating the GDS score to more than one decimal point conveys an unwarrented impression of accuracy.

Commonly, test results are reported as plus or minus the standard error of measurement (SEM). The SEM will vary depending on the number of items and degree of correlation between the items. The SEM for an ACORN global distress questionnaire with 15 well selected items is estimated at .2 points.

See Severity Ranges for further information on interpreting GDS scores.

For more information on the relationship between the number of items, reliability and measurement error see Questionnaire Reliability.

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