The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was first developed in 1992 by Professors Ron Kessler and Dan Mroczek, and was originally used in the United States National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) (Kessler and Mroczek, 1992). Gradually refining an initial set of 45 questions, Kessler and Mroczek were able to construct two sets of items: a ten item scale (K10); and a six item scale (K6) (see Tables A and B, below). The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale was published in 1994 (Kessler and Mroczek, 1994), and subsequently revised in 2001.
The K10 questionnaire was developed to yield a global measure of psychosocial distress, based on questions about people’s level of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression in the past four weeks (Coombs, 2005).
Sensitivity and specificity data indicate that the K10 is appropriate as a screening instrument to identify likely cases of psychological distress in the community (Andrews and Slade, 2001).