Objective: To describe the history, factor structure, reliability, and validity of the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC).
Method: In two separate school-based population studies, principal-components factor analysis was used, first, to test a theory-driven factor structure, and second, to develop an empirically derived factor structure for the MASC. In a separate study using a clinical population, test-retest reliability at 3 weeks and 3 months, interrater concordance, and convergent and divergent validity were examined.
Results: The final version of the MASC consists of 39 items distributed across four major factors, three of which can be parsed into two subfactors each. Main and subfactors include (1) physical symptoms (tense/restless and somatic/autonomic), (2) social anxiety (humiliation/rejection and public performance fears), (3) harm avoidance (perfectionism and anxious coping), and (4) separation anxiety. The MASC factor structure, which presumably reflects the in the vivo structure of pediatric anxiety symptoms, is invariant across gender and age and shows excellent internal reliability. As expected, females show greater anxiety on all factors and subfactors than males. Three-week and 3-month test-retest reliability was satisfactory to excellent. Parent-child agreement was poor to fair. Concordance was greatest for easily observable symptom clusters and for mother-child over father-child or father-mother pairs. Shared variance with scales sampling symptom domains of interest was highest for anxiety, intermediate for depression, and lowest for externalizing symptoms, indicating adequate convergent and divergent validity.
Conclusion: The MASC is a promising self-report scale for assessing anxiety in children and adolescents.