Research Article Panel Presentation

Marital/Couples Assessment Tests




Diana Corral, Jessica Flores, Patricia Lopez,

Rose Peskin, Cristina Zavaleta


Article Summary


Crane, D.R. & Middletone, K.C. (Jan-Mar 2002). Establishing criterion scores for the

Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale and The Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale. American Journal of Family Therapy, 28 (1), pp. 53-60.


††††††††††† Marriage and family assessments are easy to administer and to score and are commonly employed techniques in research and practice. Both the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMSS) and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (RDAS) are brief and allow for a reliable and economical measurement of marital and relationship quality.Although past research has demonstrated that the KMSS and the RDAS are effective in distinguishing maritally distressed individuals from the maritally non-distressed individuals, a cutoff point for this separation has not been identified.

Cutoff scores are important for numerous reasons.They are needed for statistical and conceptual clarity and allow researchers to clearly measure and report the clinical significance of their findings.Cutoff scores also facilitate accurate identification of the research population and allow for specific discussion of the studyís generalizability.Lastly, these cutoff points and standardized measures allow clinicians to assess their clients for high levels of marital distress and apply treatments that are more appropriate for high levels of marital distress than treatment aimed at couples with lower levels of marital distress.

The relationship between KMSS and RDAS, along with the DAS is important to understand because there is no apparent consensus regarding the preferred measure of marital/relationship quality.The variety of measures makes it difficult to make comparisons across studies or models of therapy.This also makes it difficult to generalize findings or evaluate the present state of research on therapy process and outcome.

The present study demonstrates the effectiveness of the KMSS and the RDAS in distinguishing between maritally distressed from the non-distressed by establishing a specific cut off score.The second objective is to present mathematical formulas for converting scores from one of the measures to another.††††††††



††††††††††† The research sample was comprised of 486 married individuals. One hundred and forty two of these individuals were receiving marital therapy from Auburn and Brigham University and thus considered to be martially distressed. The remaining 344 were volunteers not in clinical therapy and considered martially non-distressed.Overall, the sample consisted of young Caucasian middle-income first time married couples.


††††††††††† The measures used in the study were the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scales (RDAS), and the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMSS).All three of these self-report measures are well known and established standardized assessments used to measure the quality of marital relationships.

Both the reliability and validity of the tests have been the subject of extensive studies and are well documented (Mitchell, Newell, & Schumm, 1983; Schumm, Scanlon, Crow, Green, & Buckler, 1983; Spainer, 1976; Spainer, 1985).



The DAS, noted for its ability to differentiate between distressed and non-distressed individuals and marital couples, was used to verify the classification of the research sample. Individuals from the clinical sample, who scored above 107, indicating non-distress, were eliminated from the study. Similarly those from the volunteer pool, who scored above 107 indicating distress, were eliminated. The resulting sample consisted of a total of 354 participants (240 non-distressed and 114 distressed) and 147 couples.Once appropriately classified the participantís scores on all three tests were used to run a series of regression formulas.


A series of regression were run in order to obtain the formulas (Y= a + bX) for converting scores from one instrument to another, with the total for one measure serving as the independent variable (X) and the total from another representing the dependent variable (Y).Preliminary t-tests demonstrated that there was no significant difference between husbands and wives for the DAS, KMSS, and RDAS.Based on the conversion scores, cutoff scores for the RDAS and KMSS can now be calculated based on the DAS cutoff score of 107.The cutoff score for the RDAS for distinguishing between distressed and non-distressed married individuals and couples is 48, and the KMSS cutoff score is 17 for these same three groups.



The cutoff scores of the KMSS (17) and the RDAS (48) distinguished the distressed from the non-distressed couples.Through the study, the authors developed a conversion formula that can also be used across other measures, the DAS, MAT and the RMAT to provide a uniform comparison of scores among these commonly used instruments of marital quality.This conversion formula can be applicable to any one of the five measures and has statistical meaning.These scores and the conversions that were developed are reliable.However, because the study did not contain a diverse range of married couples, it is not representative of the general population and causes limitations to the study.









              I.      Introduction:

1)      Purpose of the study

a)      Establish a cutoff score for the KMSS and RDAS

b)      Present the mathematical formulas for converting scores from KMSS to RDAS and RDAS to KMSS

2)      Significance of the study

a)      Develop a conversion between KMSS and RDAS to generalize research findings and allow for numerous conversions between 5 measures of marital quality (MAT, RMAT, DAS, RDAS, KMSS)

b)      To classify individuals and couples as maritally distressed when using the KMSS or RDAS

           II.      Method:

1)      Sample:

a)      486 married individuals from clinical facilities at Auburn University and Brigham University and from volunteer pools in the same two regions.

b)      142 subjects were obtained from marital therapy (clinical)

c)      344 subjects were recruited volunteers (non-clinical)

d)      Predominantly Caucasian, middle income, and first married couples

2)      Measures:

a)      DAS (Dyadic Adjustment Scale)

b)      RDAS (The Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale)

c)      KMSS (Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale)



3)      Procedure:

a)      To ensure the clinical sample was distressed and the non-clinical sample was non-distressed, the DAS was administered prior to the principal investigation

b)      The 354 resulting subjects were classified on the basis of their scores on the DAS:

                                                                                                                                       i.            240 non distressed individuals

                                                                                                                                     ii.            114 distressed individuals

                                                                                                                                    iii.            147 complete couples

         III.      Results:

1)      A series of regressions were run to obtain formulas for converting scores across measures

2)      Based on the conversion formulas cutoff scores to distinguish between distressed and non-distressed for the RDAS and KMSS were calculated based on the DAS cutoff score of 107

a)      The cutoff score for RDAS is 48

b)      The cutoff score for KMSS is 17

        IV.      Discussion:

1)      Critical Points

a)      Only young Caucasian couples in their first marriage, not fully representative of the general population

b)      Convenient Volunteer Sample

c)      The use of DAS score of 107 as cut off score, others researchers have used different cut off scores

d)      Conversion formulas were presented to allow for numerous conversions between 5 main measures of marital quality (MAT, RMAT, DAS, RDAS, and KMSS).


2)      Points of Interest

a)      The KSS and RDAS both have the advantage of being short and valid in assessing marital and relationship quality

b)      Overall there is a need for standardize scoring measuring marital quality