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Posted: 27th January 2013

For a new project that I am working on (in a counselling capacity) we have been asked to use the The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) as part of our evaluation and assessment.

I understand that we have to use it in order to equate qualitative feelings into numbers, but I wondered if there was a more visually-appealing way to ask participants these 14 questions.

Some initially research and explanation into the focus of the statements and how reliable these scales are from Health and Quality of Life Outcome,(5:62, 2007):

Other articles published include : The Hospital Anxiety And Depression Scale, R Philip Snaith; an earlier attempt in 2003 at creating a measurable scale.

Initial thoughts on WEMWBS

I think this short version is a positive and relatively accessible wording of questions for assessing people's well-being.

The statements themselves are open and in some cases quite vague in order for personal interpretation and more relevant responses.

As I have said though, I think that the visual aesthetic of the form itself is very bland and dull, particularly for an art group setting!

Adapting the WEMWBS

My main focus was to make the form look less like a form. Some people I work with really don't respond well to pieces of paperwork and so, I wanted to make it seem more like an activity or exercise.

I first started by dividing a piece of paper into roughly 14 sections so that it could fit on one side of A4 (easy to distribute, photocopy etc.)

I also thought about how I could represent the statements. I did think about images for them all, but I was worried that they would reduce the ambiguity for people and make it harder for people the answer honestly.

In the end, I thought about viewing the individual statements as clouds - thought bubbles. This could make them all stand out, along with a visual narrative too.

I did also consider how the numbers should be laid out. I wanted them to go upwards from 1 to 5 as this subtly hinted to 5 being higher. But, I am concerned whether this will interfere with the results again.

To Group or Not To Group...

I thought about linking some of the statements into groups. They roughly fit into 4 separate areas (with one exception) - feelings, others, decisions and the future. Here are the groups and an overall order that I am happy with...

I’ve been feeling cheerful
I’ve been feeling relaxed
I’ve been feeling confident
I’ve been feeling useful

I’ve been feeling interested in other people
I’ve been feeling close to other people
I’ve been feeling loved

I’ve been thinking clearly
I’ve been dealing with problems well
I’ve been able to make up my own mind about things

I’ve had energy to spare

I’ve been interested in new things
I’ve been feeling good about myself
I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future

The only statement that I think doesn't really fit is "I’ve had energy to spare" - so I have linked it with decisions/the future, but it is not really forward looking or has any really link with making plans. I do find it interesting that this is the only query roughly relating to physical health and how the body feels. This statement though does also cover if people are feeling tired as well.

I am worried though if grouping the statements though would devalue their individual power. I want to know if there were any particular thought processes behind the order of the statements.

I'd be very interested in the initial selection and development of the scale and how they came to choose these 14 statements. I've found some research from 2007:

I'm still researching at the moment into the initial set up of the scalaI cant really seem to find anything about the selection.


The End far...

I'm still working on it, but here is the end visual that I am working on. Here are some of the features I've decided on:

  • I've made the progression through the questions less linear
  • I've made the numbers on a horizontal, creating a visual reminder of scale.
  • I've subtly grouped the questions through shaded clouds behind the statements - visually linking them together
  • and I've included a total box at the bottom to easily see the results


I've been trying research into the visual representations and effects of these qualities on evaluations and questionnaire, but with very little luck finding anything.

Further Reading

Remembering the Past - Tom Hussey

Reflections by Tom Hussey