search  | feedback
  based practice
  risk management
  writing policy
  & organisational
  data analysis
  social capital
  training workshops
  ideas & articles
  about us
  disclaimer | copyright

  Alternatives Pty Ltd
  ABN 23 050 334 435

Contents | 1. Introduction | 2. Steps | 3. Practicalities | 4. Examples | 5. Client questionnaires
6. Standardized tools | 7. On-line surveys | 8. Checklists | 9. Resources

6. Standardized tools


In recent years there has been increased pressure on human services to show they are achieving outcomes. This has led to a focus on measurement of outcomes.

Human services focusing on whether or not they are making a difference for clients is a good thing.

Key questions are: How does one know? Will other people believe us? How can we show a cause and effect link between what our service does and changes in clients?

In answering these questions there has been a growing emphasis on the use of standardised questionnaires and tools; often without adequately addressing cause and effect linkages. There are many paradoxes and dilemmas in measuring outcomes.

See also Client questionnaires, Examples and On-line surveys for more examples of questionnaires.


There are thousands of standardised tools for health and community services. Some examples relevant for services working with families and children include measures of:

  • Quality of life - Australian well being Index
  • Post-natal depression - Edinburgh Post-natal depression scale PDF
  • Child parent relationship- The Pianta Scale PDFhas three sub-scales (conflicts, positive aspects of the relationship and dependence) .
  • Child behaviour - Strengths and difficulties questionnaire - This includes five sub-scales (emotional, conduct, hyperactivity, peer and pro-social) and a total score (which excludes pro social).
  • Child development - Battelle Development Quotient is a standardised score of child development.
  • Depression, anxiety and stress - The DASS21 is a set of three self-report scales designed to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress
  • Adolescents self-description - SDQI PDF- The Self Description Questionnaire I is designed to measure multiple dimensions of self-concept for pre-adolescents.
  • Personal effectiveness - ROPELOC - The ROPELOC instrument contains 14 scales; including personal abilities and beliefs (Self-Confidence, Self-Efficacy, Stress Management, Open Thinking), social abilities (Social Effectiveness, Cooperative Teamwork, Leadership Ability), organisational skills (Time Management, Quality Seeking, Coping with Change


Advantages of using standardised questionnaires and tools such as those above can include:

  • The ease of using already developed measures
  • Being able to relate your findings with others findings
  • Being able to compare your clients with the population generally or other groups of clients


The disadvantages of using standardised questionnaires and tools can include.

  • They may be longer and more intrusive than one might wish to be with one's clients
  • They don't measure exactly what you want to measure
  • They may require a specialist to administer (e.g. a psychologist is required for the Battelle)
  • There may be additional costs such as copyright fees.

Useful questions

When thinking about using standardised tools some useful questions are:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What do you want to measure?
  • What does the standardised tool measure?
  • How certain do you want to be?
  • Who do you need to convince?
  • Are you doing evaluation? Or research?
  • How will you show a cause and effect linkage between your service and the outcomes for your clients?
  • How will the use of the tool impact on the clients?
  • How will the use of the tool impact on the service process?