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What is M3VAS? 

We have developed a measure to optimise the detection of how depressed people are - the Maudsley 3-item depression visual analogue scale (M3VAS). M3VAS is quick and easy to complete, with no expert skills required to administer and score. It can be used as well as, or instead of, existing depression assessments.   

More information can be found in the initial scale validation publication

Why might it be better than other available measures? 

  • Commonly used scales assessing depressive symptoms are useful but are not very sensitive over time (i.e. they don't pick up changes in depression severity very well) 
  • Depression severity scores on current measures are limited by having to select scores from a constrained set (e.g. 0/1/2) 
  • Most current measures focus on either severity or frequency of symptom experience, not incorporating both 
  • Current measures include items pertaining to tertiary depressive symptoms that may be picking up side effects from medication rather than the experience of depression itself (e.g. gastro/somatic symptoms) 

The M3VAS addresses the above drawbacks by: 

  1. Only containing symptoms that have been shown to represent patients’ remission from a mood episode (low mood, anhedonia, suicidality) 
  2. Remove the category and numerical constraints: the respondent places a mark on a line without numerical indications, thus removing influence of number and increasing score variability (total score 0-300).

The Maudsley-3-VAS (M3VAS) scale is currently being validated against ‘gold standard’ clinician and patient-rated scales of depression in multiple studies to demonstrate whether it improves upon currently available measures.  

How to score M3VAS  

Simply measure the placement of the respondent's mark for each of three items. The line is 10cm long and measurements are in millimetres, thus providing a score between 0-100 on each item.  

As well as a cross-sectional assessment of depression, there is also a 'change' version of the scale (which can be used in tandem in longitudinal assessments); here, the respondent places a mark of change (better/worse/no change) on each item since their most recent assessment (providing a score between -50 and 50 for each item, representing worsening or improvement respectively).  

Accessing M3VAS 

The measure itself can be accessed here and further guidance for use/scoring can be found here. Please note and adhere to our copyright statement, which can be found below and in the measure file.


The development and validation of M3VAS was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. 

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