Measuring self and informant perspectives of Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours (RRBs): psychometric evaluation of the Repetitive Behaviours Questionnaire-3 (RBQ-3) in adult clinical practice and research settgs

Catherine R.G. Jones, Lucy A. Livingston, Christine Fretwell, Mirko Uljarević, Sarah J. Carrington, Punit Shah, Susan R. Leekam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Brief questionnaires that comprehensively capture key restricted and repetitive behaviours (RRBs) across different informants have potential to support autism diagnostic services. We tested the psychometric properties of the 20-item Repetitive Behaviours Questionnaire-3 (RBQ-3), a questionnaire that includes self-report and informant-report versions enabling use across the lifespan. Method: In Study 1, adults referred to a specialised adult autism diagnostic service (N = 110) completed the RBQ-3 self-report version, and a relative or long-term friend completed the RBQ-3 informant-report version. Clinicians completed the abbreviated version of the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO-Abbreviated) with the same adults as part of the diagnostic process. For half of the assessments, clinicians were blind to the RBQ-3 ratings. We tested internal consistency, cross-informant reliability and convergent validity of the RBQ-3. In Study 2, a follow-up online study with autistic (N = 151) and non-autistic (N = 151) adults, we further tested internal consistency of the RBQ-3 self-report version. We also tested group differences and response patterns in this sample. Results: Study 1 showed good to excellent internal consistency for both self- and informant-report versions of the RBQ-3 (total score, α = 0.90, ω = 0.90, subscales, α = 0.76-0.89, ω = 0.77-0.88). Study 1 also showed cross-informant reliability as the RBQ-3 self-report scores significantly correlated with RBQ-3 informant-report scores for the total score (rs = 0.71) and subscales (rs= 0.69-0.72). Convergent validity was found for both self and informant versions of the RBQ-3, which significantly correlated with DISCO-Abbreviated RRB domain scores (rs = 0.45-0.54). Moreover, the RBQ-3 scores showed significantly weaker association with DISCO -Abbreviated scores for the Social Communication domain, demonstrating divergent validity. Importantly, these patterns of validity were found even when clinicians were blind to RBQ-3 items. In Study 2, for both autistic and non-autistic groups, internal consistency was found for the total score (α = 0.82-0.89, ω = 0.81-0.81) and for subscales (α = 0.68-0.85, ω = 0.69-0.85). A group difference was found between groups. Limitations: Due to the characteristics and scope of the specialist autism diagnostic service, further testing is needed to include representative samples of age (including children) and intellectual ability, and those with a non-autistic diagnostic outcome. Conclusions: The RBQ-3 is a questionnaire of RRBs that can be used across the lifespan. The current study tested its psychometric properties with autistic adults without intellectual disability and supported its utility for both clinical diagnostic and research settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalMolecular Autism
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. The RBQ-3 questionnaire is freely available to download from the Cardiff University website:


  • Autism
  • Clinical service
  • RBQ-3
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviours
  • Self-report questionnaire
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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