4817.0.55.001 - Information Paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS Health Surveys, Australia, 2007-08  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/07/2012   
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The following section of the paper presents characteristics and experiences that may affect mental health, including:

    - demographic and geographic characteristics;
    - personal and financial stressors;
    - life experiences;
    - self-assessed mental and physical health;
    - quality of life;
    - mental health conditions; and
    - unmet need for mental health services.

Data is analysed by K10 results to demonstrate the relationships between each of these characteristics and levels of psychological distress – that is, the potential for each of these characteristics to vary according to levels of distress.

The paper then explores K10 results by selected mental health disorders (both self-reported and as diagnosed by the CIDI); suicidal thoughts or behaviours; and mental health service usage and strategies.

Analyses generally include moderate, high and very high levels of psychological distress.

The K10 module was asked of persons aged 18 and over in the NHS, and persons aged 16-85 years in the SMHWB. In this paper, SMHWB data is presented for people aged 18-85 for consistency purposes.

When comparing results from the NHS and SMHWB, it is important to note differences in purpose, scope and design of these two surveys. For example, the NHS was designed to obtain national benchmarks on a wide range of health issues, and to enable changes in health to be monitored over time, while the SMHWB (a voluntary survey) was designed to provide information on the prevalence of three major mental health disorder groups in the population (anxiety, affective and substance use disorders). The sample, response rate and enumeration period were also different within iterations and across each of the surveys (see Table L).

Table L: NHS (2001, 2004-05 & 2007-08) & SMHWB (1997 & 2007)

Age in scope
Response Rate
Enumeration period
1997 SMHWB
Adults 18 years and over
May - Aug 97 (4m)
2007 SMHWB
Adults 16-85 years
Aug - Dec 07 (5m)
2001 NHS
Adults 18 years and over
Feb - Nov 01 (10m)
2004-05 NHS
Adults 18 years and over
Aug 04 - Jun 05 (11m)
2007-08 NHS
Adults 18 years and over
Aug 07 - Jun 08 (11m)

This section contains the following subsection :
      Demographic and socio-geographic factors
      Mental health risk factors
      Self-Assessed Health
      Mental Health Conditions and medication usage

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