Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) : development and UK validation

By Ruth Tennant, Louise Hiller, Ruth Fishwick, Stephen Platt, Stephen Joseph, Scott Weich, Jane Parkinson, Jenny Secker and Sarah L. Stewart-Brown


Background\ud There is increasing international interest in the concept of mental well-being and its contribution to all aspects of human life. Demand for instruments to monitor mental well-being at a population level and evaluate mental health promotion initiatives is growing. This article describes the development and validation of a new scale, comprised only of positively worded items relating to different aspects of positive mental health: the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS).\ud \ud Methods\ud WEMWBS was developed by an expert panel drawing on current academic literature, qualitative research with focus groups, and psychometric testing of an existing scale. It was validated on a student and representative population sample. Content validity was assessed by reviewing the frequency of complete responses and the distribution of responses to each item. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the hypothesis that the scale measured a single construct. Internal consistency was assessed using Cronbach's alpha. Criterion validity was explored in terms of correlations between WEMWBS and other scales and by testing whether the scale discriminated between population groups in line with pre-specified hypotheses. Test-retest reliability was assessed at one week using intra-class correlation coefficients. Susceptibility to bias was measured using the Balanced Inventory of Desired Responding.\ud \ud Results\ud WEMWBS showed good content validity. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the single factor hypothesis. A Cronbach's alpha score of 0.89 (student sample) and 0.91 (population sample) suggests some item redundancy in the scale. WEMWBS showed high correlations with other mental health and well-being scales and lower correlations with scales measuring overall health. Its distribution was near normal and the scale did not show ceiling effects in a population sample. It discriminated between population groups in a way that is largely consistent with the results of other population surveys. Test-retest reliability at one week was high (0.83). Social desirability bias was lower or similar to that of other comparable scales.\ud \ud Conclusion\ud WEMWBS is a measure of mental well-being focusing entirely on positive aspects of mental health. As a short and psychometrically robust scale, with no ceiling effects in a population sample, it offers promise as a tool for monitoring mental well-being at a population level. Whilst WEMWBS should appeal to those evaluating mental health promotion initiatives, it is important that the scale's sensitivity to change is established before it is recommended in this context.\ud \u

Topics: BF
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2004). (Eds.): Positive psychology in practice. doi
  2. (2003). (Eds.): The measurement and valuation of health status using EQ5-D: a European perspective doi
  3. (1988). A user's guide to the General Health Questionnaire
  4. (1988). A: Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. J Pers Soc Psych doi
  5. (2003). Better or worse: a longitudinal study of adults living in private households in Great Britain. London: The Stationery Office; doi
  6. (2007). Can the 12 item General Health Questionnaire be used to measure positive mental health? Psychol Med doi
  7. (1995). CLM: The structure of psychological well-being revisited. doi
  8. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychol Bull doi
  9. (1991). DB: Enhancement and denial in socially desirable responding. J Pers Soc Psychol doi
  10. (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional intelligence. Pers Ind Diff
  11. (1996). DL: Factor structure of mental health measures. J Pers Soc Psychol
  12. (1983). Flett R: A scale to measure current level of general happiness. Aust Psychol doi
  13. (2001). H: Psychiatric morbidity among adults living in private households. Office for National Statistics: London doi
  14. (2006). Linley PA: Positive therapy: a meta-theory for positive psychological practice. doi
  15. (2002). Measuring parts most measures do not reach: a necessity for evaluation in mental health promotion.
  16. (2004). Measuring the dimensions of psychological general well-being by the WHO-5. QoL Newsletter
  17. (2006). Monitoring positive mental health in Scotland: validating the Affectometer 2 scale and developing the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale for the UK. Edinburgh, NHS Health Scotland; doi
  18. (2001). On happiness and human potential: a review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annu Rev Psychol doi
  19. (2004). Organisation: Promoting Mental Health; Concepts emerging evidence and practice. Summary report Geneva; World Health Organisation;
  20. (2001). Organisation: Strengthening mental health promotion Geneva; World Health Organisation; doi
  21. (1999). PM: Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling doi
  22. Positive mental health in individuals and populations.
  23. (1978). Psychometric Theory. 2nd edition.
  24. (2004). Rapid assessment of well-being: the Short Depression-Happiness Scale (SDHS). Psychol Psychother doi
  25. (2002). Ryff CD: Optimizing well-being: The empirical encounter of two traditions. doi
  26. (1985). S: The Satisfaction with Life Scale. doi
  27. (1998). S: Well-being therapy: A novel psychotherapeutic approach for residual symptoms of affective disorders. Psychol Med doi
  28. (2006). Scotland: Health Education Population Survey: Update from
  29. (1980). Significance tests and goodness of fit in the anlaysis of covariance structures. Psychol Bull
  30. (2007). The Affectometer 2: a measure of positive mental health in UK populations. Qual Life Res doi
  31. (1997). The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care. Psychol Med doi
  32. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal expressiveness (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. J Pers Soc Psych doi
  33. (1987). Utility of confirmatory factor analysis in test validation research. doi
  34. (1999). Well-being therapy. Psychother Psychosom doi
  35. (2007). What do you think? (2006) The third national Scottish survey of public attitudes to mental health, mental wellbeing and mental health problems. Scottish Executive: Edinburgh;

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.