Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS)
- General information
- Structure and administration
- Sample norms, reliability, and validity
Author(s)/developer(s): Beck, A.T., & Steer, R.A.
Date(s) of publication: 1988, 1993
Version(s): Original (BHS; 1988), current version (1993)
Primary: Hope, hopelessness
Secondary: None identified
Feelings about the future, loss of motivation, expectations.
To assess an individual’s level of hopelessness.
Use(s) of information:
This measure is intended to assess hopelessness/negative attitudes towards the future. It is also used as a predictor of future suicidal behaviour.
Adolescents and adults ages 17-80. One study (Beck et al., 2006) had participants as young as 15.
English, Chinese, French (International), Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, and Xhosa.
Additional information to inform measure useOther considerations:
Predictive validity for suicide attempts is difficult to establish conclusively since suicide is a very low base-rate behaviour. As such, the specificity tends to be substantially lower than the sensitivity (which is generally excellent).
Ontario-based programs or initiatives using this measure:
Community mental health liaison
Structure and administration
Method(s) of administration:
Self-report or verbally by an administrator if necessary.
Adolescent or adult being assessed.
Number of items:
Information not indicated / not available at this time
Estimated time to administer:
None (self-report). Training required for verbal administration.
Training requirements, scoring and interpretation:
Scoring and interpretation requires a doctorate in psychology, education, or a related field with relevant training and experience in assessment, or a license to practice in a health or allied health care field (e.g. doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, etc.) Scoring can be done manually or electronically with the Q Local Scoring and Reporting software.
Sample norms, reliability, and validity
The norms, reliability and validity statistics included in each measure profile are those reported by the author(s) of the measure. It is important to note that altering, adding or removing questions from a measure voids these reported statistics, possibly making the revised tool unreliable and invalid.
Sample for development of norms:
294 patients who had recently attempted suicide. Participants were primarily Caucasian or African American.
The authors reported an internal consistency (alpha) coefficient of 0.93. Further studies have found alpha coefficients ranging from 0.42 to 0.91. Test-retest reliability has been reported as 0.85.
The authors report good concurrent, convergent, and divergent validity. They also report good predictive validity. Further studies have also found evidence of extensive convergent and divergent validity, and good predictive validity. A meta-analysis of the predictive validity of the BHS (McMillan et al, 2007) found that it was a good predictor of self-harm, but not necessarily of suicidal behaviour per se.
Cost to use
No copy available from the Centre. Contact author or publisher
The complete hand-scoring kit (including manual and 25 record forms) costs $191.00. The manual is $122.00, and a package of 25 hand-scoring forms is $86.00. Interpretive reports for the Q Local software costs between 3.70 and 2.90 per report depending on how many you purchase at once. All prices are in Canadian dollars and are accurate as of February 2016.
Contact Information / Ordering Information:
Pearson Canada Assessment Inc.
55 Horner Ave.
Phone: 1-866-335-8418 (English)
Phone: 1-866-335-8427 (French)
Beck, A.T., Brown, G., Berchick, R.J., Stewart, B.L., & Steer, R.A. (1990). Relationship between hopelessness and ultimate suicide: A replication with psychiatric outpatients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147, 190-195.
Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. A. (1988). Manual for the Beck Hopelessness Scale. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Beck, A.T., Steer, R.A., Kovacs, M., & Garrison, B. (1985). Hopelessness and eventual suicide: A 10-year prospective study of patients hospitalized with suicidal ideation. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142(5), 559-563.
Beck, A.T., Weissman, A., Lester, D., & Trexler, L. (1974). The measurement of pessimism: The Hopelessness Scale. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42(6), 861-865.
Bouvard, M., Charles, S., Guérin, J., Aimard, G., & Cottraux, J. (1992). Étude de l’échelle de désespoir de Beck (Hopelessness Scale): Validation et analyse factorielle. L’Encéphale, 18, 237-240.
Cunha, J.A., & Guevara Werlang, B.S. (1996). A study with the Beck Hopelessness Scale in clinical and nonclniical groups. [Portuguese]. PSICO, 27(2), 189-197.
Durak, A. (1994). Validity and reliability of the Beck Hopelessness Scale. [Turkish]. Turk Psikoloji Dergisi, 9(31), 1-11.
Forintos, D.P., Sallai, J., & Rózsa, S. (2010). Adaptation of the Beck Hopelessness Scale in Hungary. Psychological Topics, 19(2), 307-321.
Gil, S., & Gibar, O. (2001). Hopelessness among cancer patients. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 19(1), 21-33.
Holden, R.R., & Feken, G.C. (1988). Test-retest reliability of the Hopelessness Scale and its items in a university population. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44(1), 40-43.
McMillan, D., Gilbody, S., Beresford, E., & Neilly, L. (2007). Can we predict suicide and non-fatal self-harm with the Beck Hopelessness Scale? A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 37(6), 769-778.
Pompili, M., Tatarelli, R., Rogers, J.R., & Lester, D. (2007). The Hopelessness Scale: A factor analysis. Psychological Reports, 100(2), 375-378.
Shek, D.T. (1993). Measurement of pessimism in Chinese adolescents: The Chinese Hopelessness Scale. Social Behavior and Personality, 12(2), 107-120.
Steed, L. (2001). Further validity and reliability evidence for Beck Hopelessness Scale scores in a nonclinical sample. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 61(2), 303-316.
Steele, G.I. (2003). The development and validation of the Xhosa translations of the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Hopelessness Scale (Unpublished master’s thesis). Rhodes University, Ghramstown, South Africa.
Status: Verified and completed
Last updated: 2016-02-03