Evidence-based assessment/Instruments/Mood Disorder Questionnaire

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ)[1] is a 15-item self-report psychological questionnaire designed to identify mood symptoms often found in bipolar disorder and their degree of impairment in adolescents and adults ages 12 and above. It takes approximately 5–10 minutes to complete. It also has been used as a parent-report measure to assess mood symptoms in teenagers and children as young as age 5. At least one study has looked at having teachers complete it about a youth's mood, but found that it did not work well as a teacher report.

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Wikipedia has more about this subject: Mood Disorder Questionnaire

Scoring and interpretationEdit

The first question (a set of symptoms) identifies 13 common mood and behavior symptoms and asks if the child has experienced any of them, and the second question asks if these symptoms have ever occurred at the same time. The third question asks to what degree of impairment the symptoms have on the child, on a scale of “no problem,” “minor problem,” “moderate problem,” to “serious problem.” The last two questions address if a family history of bipolar disorder exists and if a diagnosis of bipolar disorder has already been determined.

Only responses to the first three are factored in the total score. The questionnaire suggests a higher risk for bipolar disorder if the child reports the presence of 7 or more symptoms, reports the co-existence of multiple symptoms, and reports degree of impairment as a “moderate” to “serious problem.”


The MDQ was originally developed as a self-report measure. However, it also has gathered a lot of data supporting its validity as a parent-completed measure. There have been a few studies looking at it as a teacher-completed measure and a collateral-rated measure in adults (e.g., where a roommate or significant other would fill it out about the person in question).

The self-report version has been translated into multiple languages, and there are many research papers examining the reliability (almost always measured as internal consistency) and validity of the translated versions.

Self Report versionsEdit

Parent Report versionsEdit

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance screenerEdit

The mania screener is adapted from the Mood Disorder Questionnaire. Clinicians can tell potential clients to take it as a pre-screener.

Other research versionsEdit

Other versions that might be of interest for research, but that do not have enough evidence to support their use clinically at the moment include teacher report and adult collateral report versions.

Evidence Base[edit | edit source]Edit

Peer Reviewed Research[edit | edit source]Edit

The first paper published on the MDQ was in 2000, and research has appeared steadily since then. The MDQ consistently has shown good evidence of reliability. It has showed excellent evidence of discriminative validity in two meta-analyses, one focused on self-report in adults and the other looking at performance with children and teenagers. Both meta-analyses concluded that the MDQ performed in the top tier of measures, establishing it as one of the "best of the free" tools for assessing hypomanic and manic symptoms.

Limitations include that it is not diagnostically as sensitive to bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, or other specified bipolar or related disorders. It also does not measure severity of symptoms, making it a poor choice for tracking treatment response or outcomes.

PubMed Search: Click here for a current search on PubMed. This is a free database that covers medicine, so some articles published in psychology journals might be missing. The entries will usually include abstracts, and sometimes will include a version of full text (especially if the project was grant funded). This search is designed to be highly specific (i.e., not including lots of irrelevant articles), but it might miss some articles.

External LinksEdit


  1. "Mood Disorders Questionnaire" (PDF).