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Preoperative anxiety was assessed using the hospital anxiety and depression (HAD) scale, multiple affect adjective check list (MAACL) and linear analogue anxiety scale (LAAS) in 100 consecutive day case patients undergoing termination of pregnancy. The HAD scale, a recently introduced self assessment scale comprising 7 multiple choice questions, was readily accepted and easily understood by patients. There was a high degree of correlation between the HAD scale and both the MAACL (correlation coefficient 0.74) and the LAAS (correlation coefficient 0.67). There was only a moderate degree of correlation between the HAD scale and the anaesthetist's assessment of anxiety (correlation coefficient 0.46). The HAD scale is a useful method of subjective measurement of preoperative anxiety.