4715.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2019   
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MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING DATA


This appendix provides information about the questions used to measure mental health conditions, and the questions to measure social and emotional wellbeing.

MENTAL AND BEHAVIOURAL CONDITIONS

New set of questions

A new set of questions on mental and behavioural conditions was introduced in 2018–19, which asked respondents aged two years and over whether they had any of the following:

    • depression
    • anxiety
    • harmful use or dependence on alcohol or drugs
    • behavioural or emotional problems, and/or
    • other mental health conditions.

Development and testing of the questions was informed through advice from an expert advisory panel, comprising members from government and non-government agencies. The questions were tested in non-remote and remote areas of Australia.

Comparability with other data sources

The change to the collection of this data means the 2018–19 results are not comparable with the 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the 2014–15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), or the 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS).
    • In the 2012–13 NATSIHS and the 2014–15 NATSISS, information about mental or behavioural conditions was collected as part of a set of questions covering a wide range of long-term health conditions. Results for 2018–19 show a higher proportion of people reported having a mental or behavioural condition than in 2012–13 and 2014–15. This may be due to the greater prominence of mental health questions in 2018–19.
    • The ordering and wording of the questions in 2018–19 differs from the 2017–18 NHS. In 2018–19 respondents were asked whether they had been diagnosed with any of the listed conditions by a health professional, followed by questions on whether those conditions were still current and whether they had lasted, or were expected to last, six months or more. In the NHS, respondents were asked about any mental health conditions they had, regardless of whether those conditions were diagnosed by a health professional, followed by questions on the duration of those conditions and whether they had been diagnosed by a health professional.
    • A list of mental and behavioural conditions was presented to people on a prompt card and the 2018–19 list was shorter than the 2017–18 NHS list. This was done to ensure the conditions on the prompt card could be easily identified by people in both non-remote and remote areas.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING

Social and emotional wellbeing was measured using several short series of questions taken from existing health and wellbeing surveys. Respondents aged 18 years and over and present at the interview were asked these questions. These questions could not be answered by someone else on the respondent’s behalf.
    • Two sets of questions asked about the frequency of specific feelings in the four weeks prior to interview to measure psychological distress and positive emotional states.
    • People in non-remote areas were asked two additional sets of questions about levels of mastery (the sense of control over one’s life) and perceptions of social support.

Kessler 5 (K5) score

The Kessler 5 (K5) score is a measure of non-specific psychological distress, derived from a modified version of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). It uses five questions (instead of 10), and is designed for use in surveys of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more information see Information Paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS Health Surveys, Australia, 2007–08 (cat. no. 4817.0.55.001).

The K5 (and K10) is not a diagnostic tool, but is used as an indicator of levels of psychological distress experienced recently.
    • Respondents were asked questions about how often they had experienced negative emotional states in the previous four weeks by selecting one of five responses presented on a prompt card, ranging from ‘all of the time’ to ‘none of the time’.
    • ‘Don’t know’ and refusal options were available and, if selected, an overall score was unable to be determined.
    • Responses to the questions were combined to produce an overall score between five and 25.
    • The scores were then grouped to describe the level of psychological distress as low/moderate (5–11) or high/very high (12–25).

The psychological distress results are comparable with the 2012–13 NATSIHS and the 2014–15 NATSISS. They are also comparable with the 2017–18 NHS, but there are some differences:
    • the NHS uses the K10 instead of the K5
    • two of the questions in the K10 are asked slightly differently in the K5 to ensure the questions are culturally relevant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    • respondents were unable to select a response of ‘Don’t know’ in the NHS.

Positive wellbeing

There were four positive wellbeing questions, taken from the mental health and vitality scales of the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF–36).
    • Respondents were asked questions about how often they had experienced positive emotional states in the previous four weeks by selecting one of five responses presented on a prompt card, ranging from ‘all of the time’ to ‘none of the time’.
    • ‘Don’t know’ and refusal options were available.

The results from each of the four questions are comparable with the 2012–13 NATSIHS and the 2014–15 NATSISS.

Pearlin Mastery Scale (non-remote only)

The Pearlin Mastery Scale is a set of seven statements used to measure how much a person feels in control over life events and outcomes. Higher levels of mastery can lessen the impact of stress on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.
    • Respondents were asked to respond to each statement by selecting one of four responses presented on a prompt card, ranging from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
    • ‘Don’t know’ and refusal options were available and, if selected, an overall score was unable to be determined.
    • Responses to the statements were combined to produce an overall score between seven and 28.
    • The scores were then grouped to describe the level of mastery as low (7–19) or high (20–28).

The Pearlin Mastery overall score and results from the individual statements are not comparable with the 2012–13 NATSIHS due to response category changes.

Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) (non-remote only)

A set of six statements from the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) was used to measure a person’s perception of the social support they receive from family and friends.
    • Respondents were asked to respond to each statement by selecting one of seven responses presented on a prompt card, ranging from ‘very strongly disagree’ to ‘very strongly agree’.
    • ‘Don’t know’ and refusal options were available and, if selected, a score was unable to be determined.
    • Responses to the statements were combined to produce a family score, a friends score and an overall score.
    • The family, friends and overall scores were grouped to describe the level of perceived social support from each dimension as low (1–2.9), moderate (3–5) or high (5.1–7).

The MSPSS family, friends and overall scores and results from the individual statements are not comparable with the 2012–13 NATSIHS due to response category changes.

Other questions

Several other questions were asked to determine:
    • the impact of psychological distress on employment and other regular activities
    • how often physical health problems had been the cause of psychological distress
    • use of health and community services, such as doctors and counsellors, for mental health
    • barriers to using health services for mental health.