The Negative Effects Questionnaire – a new scale for monitoring and reporting adverse and unwanted events in psychological treatments

Research conducted during the last decades has provided increasing evidence for the use of psychological treatments for a number of psychiatric disorders and somatic complaints. However, by focusing only on the positive outcomes, less attention has been given to the potential of negative effects. Despite indications of deterioration and other adverse and unwanted events during treatment, little is known about their occurrence and characteristics. Hence, in order to facilitate research of negative effects, a new instrument for monitoring and reporting their incidence and impact was developed using a consensus among researchers, self-reports by patients, and a literature review: the Negative Effects Questionnaire. The results are now published in the journal PLoS One.

Participants were recruited via a smartphone-delivered self-help treatment for social anxiety disorder and through the media (N = 653). An exploratory factor analysis was performed, resulting in a six-factor solution with 32 items, accounting for 57.64% of the variance. The derived factors were: symptoms, quality, dependency, stigma, hopelessness, and failure. Items related to unpleasant memories, stress, and anxiety were experienced by more than one-third of the participants. Further, increased or novel symptoms, as well as lack of quality in the treatment and therapeutic relationship rendered the highest self-reported negative impact. In addition, the findings were discussed in relation to prior research and other similar instruments of adverse and unwanted events, giving credence to the items that are included.

The instrument is presently available in eleven different languages and can be freely downloaded and used.


The NEQ (Negative Effects Questionnaire) is freely available for use in research and clinical practice. At time of writing, the instrument has been translated by professional translators into the following languages, available for download via the website []: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

Read the full paper (open access):

Rozental, A., Kottorp, A., Boettcher, J., Andersson, G., & Carlbring, P. (2016). Negative Effects of Psychological Treatments: An Exploratory Factor Analysis of the Negative Effects Questionnaire for Monitoring and Reporting Adverse and Unwanted Events. PLoS ONE, 11(6), e0157503. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157503