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) 04/04/2012   
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Contents >> Background >> Inclusion of K10 in ABS Surveys

The K10 was first used by the ABS in the 1997 SMHWB, and has continued to be used in the SMHWB and all National Health Surveys from 2001.

In addition, the 1997 SMHWB employed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) to diagnose selected mental disorders, including anxiety, affective, and substance use disorders. This diagnostic tool provided an opportunity to compare short modules included in the survey that measure mental health, such as the General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ12) and the K10.

Analysis of the results from the 1997 SMHWB revealed a strong association between a high K10 score and a CIDI diagnosis of current anxiety and affective disorders. A lesser, but significant association was found between the K10 and the presence of any current mental disorder or other mental disorder categories. The K10 was then selected for inclusion in the 2001 NHS, as the supporting evidence from the SMHWB analysis showed it to be a better predictor of psychological distress than the other short general measures of mental health used in the 1997 SMHWB, particularly the GHQ12. This finding was supported by research from Andrews and Slade (2001).

Soon after the development of the 2001 NHS concluded, the K10 instrument was revised, with the new version (the 2001 version) becoming generally used in international surveys, including the CIDI component of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative.

As the 2007 SMHWB was based on the WMH-CIDI, the ABS used the 2001 version of the K10 in this survey. To maintain time series in the NHS, however, and enable ongoing comparison with K5 data from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (see below), the 1994 version is used in the 2004-05 and subsequent NHSs.

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