Construction and evaluation of a self rating scale for stress-induced exhaustion disorder, the Karolinska Exhaustion Disorder Scale

Scand J Psychol. 2014 Feb;55(1):72-82. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12088. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Prolonged stress (≥ six months) may cause a condition which has been named exhaustion disorder (ED) with ICD-10 code F43.8. ED is characterised by exhaustion, cognitive problems, poor sleep and reduced tolerance to further stress. ED can cause long term disability and depressive symptoms may develop. The aim was to construct and evaluate a self-rating scale, the Karolinska Exhaustion Disorder Scale (KEDS), for the assessment of ED symptoms. A second aim was to examine the relationship between self-rated symptoms of ED, depression, and anxiety using KEDS and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HAD). Items were selected based on their correspondence to criteria for ED as formulated by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW), with seven response alternatives in a Likert-format. Self-ratings performed by 317 clinically assessed participants were used to analyse the scale's psychometric properties. KEDS consists of nine items with a scale range of 0-54. Receiver operating characteristics analysis demonstrated that a cut-off score of 19 was accompanied by high sensitivity and specificity (each above 95%) in the discrimination between healthy subjects and patients with ED. Reliability was satisfactory and confirmatory factor analysis revealed that ED, depression and anxiety are best regarded as different phenomena. KEDS may be a useful tool in the assessment of symptoms of Exhaustion Disorder in clinical as well as research settings. There is evidence that the symptom clusters of ED, anxiety and depression, respectively, reflect three different underlying dimensions.

Keywords: KEDS; Stress; burnout; cognitive problems; exhaustion disorder; screening.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatigue / diagnosis*
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology