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Home page for the DAS24 and DAS59

What are the Derriford Appearance Scales?

The Derriford Appearance Scales are psychological measures of appearance concern, validated for use in clinical ( for example, plastic surgery, oncology, psychology) and research settings. They have excellent validity and reliability, and have been independently recommended as a measure of choice.

Why develop the Derriford Appearance Scales?

We were motivated to undertake this exercise to produce this measure for a number of compelling reasons. Clinically, it is important for professionals to be able to gain greater insight into the level of distress they encounter in patients and clients to guide their decision making and practice. It is important to recognise and value a cultural shift towards evidence based medicine (e.g., Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenburg, and Haynes, 2000; Offer & Perks, 2000) and policy making (Davies, Nutley, and Smith, 2000).

In addition to these practical issues, there is need for an outcome measure to enable academic researchers to investigate the underlying processes that contribute to and ameliorate appearance problems. Given these needs, it is crucial to have a measure which is psychometrically sound, derived from patient and user experiences, has face validity, and is easy to administer and score. The literature which has reviewed and discussed measures of body image and appearance concern has consistently found that there has been no measure which meets these criteria (see Carr, 2002; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe and Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). Existing measures of concern about the body and appearance are inadequate for varied reasons, including over-emphasis on eating disorders and the related problems, lack of validation on clinical samples, over-reliance on student samples, and poor psychometric properties. The Derriford Appearance Scale 59 (DAS 59) and the Derriford Appearance Scale 24 (DAS 24) seek to meet this need.

What the Derriford Appearance Scales measure

The underlying construct being measured is adjustment to problems of appearance. From a psychological perspective, this will manifest differently for each individual respondent. However, we believe that the basic structure of adjustment is common across most individuals. From our point of view, adjustment comprises negative emotions of fear, social anxiety, shame, and negative affect along with a behavioural response of avoidance and withdrawal that frequently disrupts lifestyle causing distress from being unable to do things people normally do.

It would of course be conceivable to measure each of these elements independently and combine them into an aggregated super-variable. However, in the design of these measures (DAS24 and DAS59) we believe we have captured the essential and important elements of each of these in easy to use scales. One of the aspects of adjustment that remains to be investigated is stability of adjustment. While test-retest correlations of both scales high, and clinical experience indicates general stability, the extent of intra-individual variation and the importance of contextual influences on adjustment remains to be determined.

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