Reliability, validity and sensitivity of a computerized visual analog scale measuring state anxiety

Rany Abend, Orrie Dan, Keren Maoz, Sivan Raz, Yair Bar-Haim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives Assessment of state anxiety is frequently required in clinical and research settings, but its measurement using standard multi-item inventories entails practical challenges. Such inventories are increasingly complemented by paper-and-pencil, single-item visual analog scales measuring state anxiety (VAS-A), which allow rapid assessment of current anxiety states. Computerized versions of VAS-A offer additional advantages, including facilitated and accurate data collection and analysis, and applicability to computer-based protocols. Here, we establish the psychometric properties of a computerized VAS-A. Methods Experiment 1 assessed the reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity of the computerized VAS-A in a non-selected sample. Experiment 2 assessed its sensitivity to increase in state anxiety following social stress induction, in participants with high levels of social anxiety. Results Experiment 1 demonstrated the computerized VAS-A's test-retest reliability (r =.44, p <.001); convergent validity with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory's state subscale (STAI-State; r =.60, p <.001); and discriminant validity as indicated by significantly lower correlations between VAS-A and different psychological measures relative to the correlation between VAS-A and STAI-State. Experiment 2 demonstrated the VAS-A's sensitivity to changes in state anxiety via a significant pre- to during-stressor rise in VAS-A scores (F(1,48) = 25.13, p <.001). Limitations Set-order administration of measures, absence of clinically-anxious population, and gender-unbalanced samples. Conclusions The adequate psychometric characteristics, combined with simple and rapid administration, make the computerized VAS-A a valuable self-rating tool for state anxiety. It may prove particularly useful for clinical and research settings where multi-item inventories are less applicable, including computer-based treatment and assessment protocols. The VAS-A is freely available: scale/.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-453
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Anxiety
  • Electronic scale
  • State anxiety
  • Stress
  • VAS
  • Visual analog scale


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