4817.0.55.001 - Information Paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS Health Surveys, Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/05/2003   
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The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale - 10 (K10) is a scale of non-specific psychological distress. It was developed by Professors Ron Kessler and Dan Mroczek, as a short dimensional measure of non-specific psychological distress in the anxiety-depression spectrum, for use in the US National Health Interview Survey.

In Australia, national level information on psychological distress using the K10 was first collected in the Survey of Mental Health and Well-being of Adults (SMHWB) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 1997. The SMHWB was an initiative of, and funded by, the Commonwealth Department Of Health and Family Services as part of the National Mental Health Strategy. The K10 was included in the ABS 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) as it proved to be a better predictor of depression and anxiety disorders than the other short, general measures used in the 1997 SMHWB.

This publication provides information on the use of the K10 in ABS health surveys. Some alternative scoring methods are outlined and some snapshot and time series comparisons are made between ABS and Australian State surveys.