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Can J Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;61(4):227-35. doi: 10.1177/0706743716632514. Epub 2016 Feb 16.

Characterization of Disability in Canadians with Mental Disorders Using an Abbreviated Version of a DSM-5 Emerging Measure: The 12-Item WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) 2.0.

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University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.



The World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) is a disability scale included in Section 3 of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a possible replacement for the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF). To assist Canadian psychiatrists with interpretation of the scale, we have conducted a descriptive analysis using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health component (CCHS-MH).


The 2012 CCHS-MH was a cross-sectional survey of the Canadian community (n = 23,757). The survey included an abbreviated 12-item version of the WHODAS 2.0. Mental disorder diagnoses were assessed for schizophrenia, other psychosis, major depressive episode (MDE), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), bipolar I disorder, substance abuse/dependence, and alcohol abuse/dependence.


Mean scores ranged from 14.2 (95% CI, 14.1 to 14.3) for the overall community population to 23.1 (95% CI, 19.5 to 26.7) for those with schizophrenia, with higher scores indicating greater disability. Furthermore, the difference in scores between those with lifetime and past-month episodes suggests that the scale is sensitive to changes occurring during the course of these disorders; for example, scores varied from 23.6 (95% CI, 22.2 to 25.1) for past-month MDE to 14.4 (95% CI, 14.2 to 14.7) in the lifetime MDE group without a past-year episode.


This analysis suggests that the WHODAS 2.0 may be a suitable replacement for the GAF. As a disability measure, even though it is not a mental health-specific instrument, the 12-item WHODAS 2.0 appears to be sensitive to the impact of mental disorders and to changes over the time course of a mental disorder. However, the clinical utility of this measure requires additional assessment.


WHODAS; World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0; descriptive statistics; disability; disability evaluation; mental disorders; population characteristics; psychiatric epidemiology

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