Quality of Life Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 277–282 | Cite as

Normative values for the distress thermometer (DT) and the emotion thermometers (ET), derived from a German general population sample

  • Andreas HinzEmail author
  • Alex J. Mitchell
  • Csaba L. Dégi
  • Anja Mehnert-Theuerkauf
Brief Communication



The distress thermometer (DT) and the emotion thermometers (ET) are short screening instruments for use in oncological practice. The aim of this study was to provide normative values and to analyze the correlational structure of the ET.


A representative sample of the adult German general population (N = 2437) completed the ET, the PHQ-4, the FACIT-fatigue scale, and the demoralization scale.


The percentages of people above the cutoff (≥ 4) and the mean scores of the five ET scales were as follows: distress: 39.0%, M = 3.15 ± 2.62, anxiety: 12.3%, M = 1.36 ± 1.93, depression: 16.1%, M = 1.65 ± 2.11, anger: 24.5%, M = 2.33 ± 2.16, and need for help: 10.7%, M = 1.18 ± 1.90. Women reported significantly higher levels of burden than men, with effect sizes between 0.07 (anger) and 0.36 (anxiety). All ET dimensions were interrelated (r between 0.44 and 0.69) and significantly correlated with the other scales (r between 0.36 and 0.68).


The normative scores can help qualify assessments of groups of patients. The new four dimensions of the ET provide relevant additional information that is not already covered by the DT.


Distress Screening General population Normative study 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Leipzig. All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology and Medical SociologyUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of Cancer and Molecular MedicineUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Faculty of Sociology and Social WorkBabes-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania

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