Assessing mood in older adults: A conceptual review of methods and approaches

Laura J.E. Brown, Arlene J. Astell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Accurate measures of mood state are important for understanding and optimizing health and well-being in later life. A range of different mood assessment measures is available, reflecting the variety of ways in which mood has been conceptualized and the different purposes for which measures have been developed. Methods: We undertook a conceptual review of the literature relating to mood and its assessment in older populations. Results: Moods are subjective states of mind that are typically described and quantified using self-report measures. Moods can be conceptually differentiated from the related psychological concepts of emotion, well-being, quality of life, and depression. Quantitative tools for assessing mood state include single-item mood ratings, composite factor scales, and clinical depression assessments. Mood assessments may be administered retrospectively or contemporaneously to the mood state of interest. The method and temporal perspective used to assess mood state will impact on the nature and precision of the mood data that are collected, and the types of research questions that can be addressed. Conclusions: No single mood assessment technique can be considered optimal for all situations. Rather, both the type of tool and the temporal perspective taken must be selected according to the nature of the study design and the research question being addressed. More thorough and frank reporting of the rationale for, and limitations of, mood assessment techniques are also essential for continued development of mood research with older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1206
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

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