Development and preliminary validation of the male depression risk scale: furthering the assessment of depression in men

J Affect Disord. 2013 Dec;151(3):950-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.08.013. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Background: The last decade has seen the burgeoning publication of male-specific depression rating scales designed to assess externalising depression symptoms (e.g., substance use, risk-taking, and aggression). These symptoms are theorised to reflect the behavioural manifestation of depression amongst men who rigidly conform to masculine norms. To date, research findings from these scales have been mixed, and each scale is limited by psychometric shortcomings or constrained assessment of symptom sub-domains.

Methods: The Male Depression Risk Scale (MDRS-22) was developed from online, non-clinical, community samples. Following best-practice recommendations, initial scale items were subject to expert review. Study 1 (male n=386) reduced the item pool via exploratory factor analysis while Study 2 (male n=499, female n=291) refined and validated the factor structure using confirmatory factor analysis. Sex and masculinity comparisons were evaluated.

Results: Goodness of fit indices validated the six-factor solution with subscales assessing: emotional suppression, drug use, alcohol use, anger and aggression, somatic symptoms and risk-taking. Between-groups analyses indicated higher MDRS-22 scores for males reporting higher conformity to masculine norms.

Limitations: Data were drawn from an online community sample without use of diagnostic interview. Test-retest correlations were not evaluated. Future research should look to examine longitudinal typical-externalising symptom trajectories across a range of clinical and non-clinical settings.

Conclusions: The MDRS-22 reports satisfactory preliminary psychometric properties with validated subscales enabling multidimensional assessment of theorised externalising symptom sub-domains. MDRS-22 scale brevity may facilitate use in primary care settings enabling better identification of at-risk males.

Keywords: Depression; Externalising symptoms; Masculinity; Men; Scale development; Sex differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masculinity
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors