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General Self-Efficacy Scale

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The General Self-Efficacy scale measures self-perception of self-efficacy. It is a self-report questionnaire that asks test-takers to rate perceived self-efficacy in order to predict their coping abilities

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Instrument Details

Acronym GSE,GSES, GSE-Scale

Area of Assessment

Life Participation
Quality of Life
Stress & Coping

Assessment Type

Patient Reported Outcomes

Administration Mode

Paper & Pencil



Actual Cost


Key Descriptions

  • 10 items
  • Score range from 10 to 40
  • Items 1-10 are summed up to create a composite score that will range from 10-40. There is no re-coding required.
  • Self-Administration. Present the test-taker with the questionnaire and ask them to mark their responses using the 4-point likert scale.
  • Available in 33 languages

Number of Items


Equipment Required

  • Questionnaire

Time to Administer

4 minutes

Required Training

No Training

Age Ranges


12 - 17



18 - 64


Elderly Adult



Instrument Reviewers

Adrià Robert Gonzalez, Christina Sukjin Kwon, Mallika Palecanda, & Hye Soo Shin (Master of Occupational Therapy students)

Faculty mentor: Danbi Lee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L

Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle

ICF Domain


Measurement Domain



  • Does not target changes in behavior
  • May be necessary to add items for specific population characteristics


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Normative Data

Arthritis: (Barlow et al., 1996; Study 1 (Adult): n=56, Mean Age=54.3 (10.9),  Disease duration=13.1 (9.4); Study 2 (Older adult),  n = 80, Mean Age=68.4(8.0), Disease duration=25.3(16.2); Study 3 (Adult), n=79, Mean Age=56.0(12.5), Disease duration=18.1(13.3); Study 4 (Adult) n=66, Mean Age=56.1(11.9), Disease duration=13.3(10.0); UK Sample)



Mean (SD)



Study 2




Study 3




Study 4




Internal Consistency

Arthritis: (Barlow et al., 1996))

  • Excellent: Cronbach’s alpha range from 0.88-0.91

Criterion Validity (Predictive/Concurrent)

Arthritis: (Barlow et al., 1996)

  • Adequate predictive validity of GSES at predicting depression (β=-0.30) and positive affect (β= 0.49) measured 4 months apart

Construct Validity

Arthritis: (Barlow et al., 1996)

  • Exploratory factor analysis supported unidimensionality of the GSE accounting for 49.9%, 56.9%, and 52.4% of the total variance in study 2, 3, and 4, respectively


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Normative Data

Advanced Cancer: (Tarakeshwar. et. al. 2006; n=170; Mean Age=57.46; American sample) 


Mean (SD)


3.42 (0.43)


3.55 (0.38)


Cancer: (Mystakidou et al., 2008)

  • Mean GSE score: 28.29 (6.90)

Test/Retest Reliability

Cancer: (Mystakidou et al., 2008; n = 99)

  • Excellent test-retest reliability: (r = 0.79)

Internal Consistency

Cancer: (Mystakidou et al., 2008\)

  • Excellent: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92* 
*Scores higher than 0.9 may indicate redundancy in the scale questions

Mixed Populations

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Normative Data

Mixed Chronic Illnesses: (Luszczynska et al., 2005; n=1933; Coronary health disease, n=395, Mean Age=58.6(10.01), German sample; Cancer, n=238,Mean Age=62(11.4), German sample; No impairment n=941, Mean Age=30.87(15.87), South Korean sample; College students n=225, Mean Age=21(1.51), Polish sample; Professional Swimmers, n=54, Mean Age=17.6(1.64), Polish sample; Gastrointestinal diseases n=80, Mean Age=49.44(9.97), Polish sample)



Mean GSE (SD)

Patients with coronary heart disease


Patients with cancer


No impairment


Patients with gastrointestinal diseases


College students


Professional swimmers



HIV: (Fillipas et al., 2006; n=40; experimental group mean age=43.3(7.7), control group mean age = 43.7(10); mean time since HIV diagnosis: experimental = 6.5 years, control = 9.9 years; scores at baseline and after six-months of exercise with a physiotherapist; Australian Sample)

  • mean GSE scores of experimental group at baseline= 30.0 (4.7)
  • mean GSE score  of control group at baseline = 32.0 (5.1)

Test/Retest Reliability

Elderly Women with Chronic Physical Illness: (Wu et al., 2004; n = 159; Mean Age=74 (6.8); Chinese sample)

  • Adequate test-retest reliability: (r = 0.75)

Internal Consistency

Mixed Chronic Illnesses: (Luszczynska et al., 2005)

  • Excellent for all samples: Cronbach’s alpha range from 0.86- 0.94* 

Elderly Women with Chronic Physical Illness: (Wu et al., 2004)

  • Excellent: Cronbach's alpha = 0.86

Women with Urinary Incontinence: (Chen et al., 2004; n=106; Mean Age=48.63(11.4); diagnosed with stress, urge, or mixed urinary incontinence and instructed to do pelvic floor muscle exercise daily for at least six weeks; Taiwanese sample)

  • Excellent: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.91* 

*Scores higher than 0.9 may indicate redundancy in the scale questions

Criterion Validity (Predictive/Concurrent)

Women with Urinary Incontinence: (Chen et al., 2004; n=106; Mean Age=48.63(11.4); diagnosed with stress, urge, or mixed urinary incontinence and instructed to do pelvic floor muscle exercise daily for at least six weeks; Taiwanese sample)

  • Adequate concurrent validity of GSE with  the Chen Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercise Self-Efficacy (PFMSE) scale (r=0.40)

Construct Validity

Mixed Chronic Illnesses: (Luszczynska et al., 2005)

  • Poor construct validity of GSE with well-being, coping and health behaviors (r=0.28, 0.28, 0.14, respectively)


Elderly Women with Chronic Physical Illness: (Wu et al., 2004)

  • Adequate convergent validity of GSE with psychological distress as measured by the General Health Questionnaire (r=0.32)

Mental Health

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Normative Data

Schizophrenia: (Schwartz et al., 2009; n=97; Mean Age=43(10.1); Mean number of years of education = 11.8; Israeli sample)


Living situation and employment status

Mean GSE (SD)

Group home (n=34)

2.6 (0.89)

Supported apartments (n=61)

2.8 (0.75)

Unemployed (n=35)

2.6 (0.82)

Employed (n=60)

2.8 (0.8)

Test/Retest Reliability

Individuals with schizophrenia: (Chiu et al., 2004; n=78)

  • Adequate to excellent test-retest reliability in 2 weeks interval (ICC=0.94, 0.75, 0.85 for personal domain, environmental domain and total score, respectively)

Internal Consistency

Schizophrenia: (Chiu et al., 2004)

  • Excellent for total score: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92*

Schizophrenia: (Schwartz et al., 2009) 

  • Excellent: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.93* 

*Scores higher than 0.9 may indicate redundancy in the scale questions 

Construct Validity

Schizophrenia: (Chiu et al., 2004)

  • Exploratory factor analysis identified two factors that accounted for 69.0% of the total variance.

Content Validity

“The content validity of items was endorsed by a panel of 8 rehabilitation professionals with 75% to 100% agreement. From the results of this panel, Chiu and Tsang (2004) concluded that all 10 items in Chinese General Self-efficacy Scales showed good to excellent content validity (p.160).”


Barlow, J. H., Williams, B., & Wright, C. (1996). The Generalized

Self-Efficacy Scale in people with arthritis. Arthritis Care and research, 9(3), 189-196.;2-#


Chen S. Y. (2004). The development and testing of the pelvic floor

muscle exercise self-efficacy scale. Journal of Nursing Research, 12(4), 257–266.


Chiu, F. P., & Tsang, H. W. (2004). Validation of the Chinese General Self-Efficacy Scale among individuals with schizophrenia in Hong Kong. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 27(2),159–161.


Fillipas, S., Oldmeadow, L. B., Bailey, M. J., & Cherry, C. L. (2006). A six-month, supervised, aerobic and resistance exercise program improves self-efficacy in people with human immunodeficiency virus: A randomised controlled trial. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 52(3), 185–190.


Leganger, A., Kraft, P., & Roysamb, E. (2000). Perceived self-efficacy in health behaviour research: Conceptualisation, measurement and correlates. Psychology & Health, 15(1), 51–69.


Luszczynska, A., Scholz, U., & Schwarzer, R. (2005). The General Self-Efficacy Scale: Multicultural validation studies. Journal of Psychology, 139(5),439–457.


Mystakidou, K., Parpa, E., Tsilika, E., Galanos, A., & Vlahos, L. (2008). General perceived self-efficacy: validation analysis in Greek cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 16(12), 1317–1322.


Schwartz, C., & Gronemann, O. C. (2009). The contribution of self-efficacy, social support and participation in the community to predicting loneliness among persons with schizophrenia living in supported residences. Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 46(2), 120–129.


Tarakeshwar, N., Vanderwerker, L. C., Paulk, E., Pearce, M. J., Kasl, S. V., & Prigerson, H. G. (2006). Religious coping is associated with the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 9(3), 646–657.


Tsang, H. W., Fung, K. M., Chan, A. S., Lee, G., & Chan, F. (2006). Effect of a qigong exercise programme on elderly with depression. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(9), 890–897.


Wu, A. M., Tang, C. S., & Kwok, T. C. (2004). Self-efficacy, health locus of control, and psychological distress in elderly Chinese women with chronic illnesses. Aging & Mental Health, 8(1), 21–28.


Zotti, A. M., Balestroni, G., Cerutti, P., Rossi Ferrario, S., Angelino, E., & Miglioretti, M. (2016). Application of the general perceived self-efficacy scale in cardiovascular rehabilitation. Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease, 68(3), 178-183.

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