The World Health Organization is part of the United Nations (for historical overview, read this). This large organization plays an important role in dealing with diseases around the world. As part of their work, they developed various well-being indices, and the WHO-5 is a short version of previously developed longer well-being indices.

The WHO-5 questionnaire has five simple non-intrusive questions. The final of the WHO-5 ranges between 0 and 100. 0 means very poor wellbeing and 100 means excellent wellbeing.

In short, the WHO-5 is a psychometrically reliable measure of wellbeing that has been used in many studies all around the world.

You really should read the article by Topp and colleagues 2015. In this, they explain that: "The WHO-5 was originally presented at a WHO meeting in Stockholm in February 1998 as part of a project on the measurement of well-being in primary health care patients [16]. Subsequent to this project, the WHO Regional Office in Europe initiated translations of the original English version of the WHO-5 into a number of other languages. At present, the WHO-5 has been translated into over 30 languages and has been used in research projects all over the world."

The WHO-5 has been used in medical studies to study wellbeing of patient groups (e.g., diabetes patients), for example, see Logtenberg and colleagues (2015).

Interpreting scores

The WHO-5 has five Likert questions ranging from 5 (all the time) to 0 (never). The sum of these answers is multiplied by 4 making the WHO-5 score ranging somethwere between 0 to 100.

There are different interpretation possibilities. The Topp and colleages (2015) article mentions that a score below 51 is often used as a screening cut-off value for depression. In other words, if your score is 50 or lower you should consider further checks on whether you suffer from clinical depression. It should be pointed out that some studies use a lower cut-off value depending on the patient group being studied.

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It seems that the WHO-5 can be used for research, but you need to acknowledge the authors and their research paper when writing about it (References).


This is a simple scale question.

The survey code for PsyToolkit

Copy and paste this code to your PsyToolkit account if you want to use the scale in your own online research project
scale: whofreq
- {score=5} All of the time
- {score=4} Most of the time
- {score=3} More than half the time
- {score=2} Less than half the time
- {score=1} Some of the time
- {score=0} At no time

l: who5
t: scale whofreq
o: boxes
q: Please respond to each item regarding <b>how you felt in the last two weeks</b>.
<B>Over the past two weeks ...</B>
- ... I have felt cheerful in good spirits.
- ... I have felt calm and relaxed.
- ... I have felt active and vigorous.
- ... I woke up feeling fresh and rested.
- ... My daily life has been filled with things that interest me.

l: who5score
t: set
- calc ( $who5.1 + $who5.2 + $who5.3 + $who5.4 + $who5.5 ) * 4

l: feedback
t: info
q: Your WHO-5 wellbeing score is <B>{$who5score}</B> points.
The score can range between 0 and 100 points.
Check the PsyToolkit webpage later to compare your score to those of others.
Interpretation: Scores of 50 or lower suggest you might suffer from depression.
This is just a likelihood and all it means at this point is that you might benefit from speaking to a healthcare provider about this for further testing.


  • Topp, C.W., Østergaard, S.D., Søndergaard, S., & Bech, P. (2015). The WHO-5 Well-Being Index: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 84, 167-176. Open access link

  • Logtenberg, S. J., Kleefstra, N., Houweling, S. T., Groenier, K. H., Gans, R. O., & Bilo, H. J. (2010). Health-related quality of life, treatment satisfaction, and costs associated with intraperitoneal versus subcutaneous insulin administration in type 1 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes care, 33(6), 1169–1172. Open access link