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 >> Other Short Form Measures

Other short form measures OTHER SHORT FORM MEASURES
Several other short form survey measures of mental health are used either individually or as part of larger health instruments. Among the most common are the following measures:

The MHI-5 is part of the Medical Outcome Study 36-item Short-Form (SF-36) Health Survey. It is a five-item measure of mental health with a time frame of the past four weeks, and has been recommended as a screening tool for mood, affective and some anxiety disorders (Rumpf et al, 2009). The scale has performed well in criterion-based tests of validity, with subjects with low scores often requiring inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care and exhibiting suicidal ideation (Berwick et al, 1991).

The SF12 is a standard international instrument owned by Quality Metric. It provides a general measure of health status through twelve questions on:

    1. physical functioning;
    2. role limitations due to physical health problems;
    3. bodily pain;
    4. general health;
    5. vitality (energy/fatigue);
    6. social functioning;
    7. role limitations due to emotional problems; and
    8. mental health (psychological distress and psychological wellbeing).

All questions use a reference period of four weeks prior to the interview. Mental health represents only one of a wider range of constructs measured by the SF12. The K10 is preferred over the SF-12 to estimate mental health because it was designed specifically as a measure of distress, as well as offering the advantages of easy administration and scoring (Andrews & Slade, 2001).

The GHQ was originally developed by Professor David Goldberg in the 1970s as a 60-item instrument to measure mental health (Goldberg et al, 1997). It now exists in a range of shortened versions including the GHQ30, the GHQ28, the GHQ20, and the GHQ12. The questionnaire was designed to detect psychiatric disorders among respondents in community and primary care settings. It is scored using a four-level response scale assessing the severity of a mental problem over the past few weeks.

Research by Furukawa et al (2003) found that the K6 and K10 have better overall discriminatory power than the GHQ12 in detecting depressive and anxiety disorders contained in the DSM-IV. Andrews and Slade (2001) note that the K10 has a larger range of questions along the distress continuum than the GHQ12. They also note that the GHQ is proprietary and is paid for each time it is used, while the K10 is in the public domain and may be used without charge.

The Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) is a nine item depression module developed by Dr Robert Spitzer, Dr Janet Williams, Kurt Kroenke and colleagues (Kroenke, 2001). The PHQ-9 is an instrument for the identification of mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression, with questions asked for a reference period of the last two weeks. While there are similarities between the PHQ-9 and the K10 questions, the PHQ-9 is not widely used in Australian population surveys.

The SPHERE-12 is a screening tool for psychological distress, comprising six psychological items and six somatic/fatigue items with a reference period of ‘the past few weeks’. Beyond Blue identifies the K10 and the SPHERE-12 as checklists to identify depression and anxiety (Beyond Blue, 2012).

The Beck Depression Inventory is a clinical depression test that measures the level of depression in patients with clinical depression. The Beck Depression Inventory Second Edition (BDI–II) was developed to correspond with the DSM-IV (Beck, Steer & Brown, 1996). The BDI–II consists of 21 items to assess the intensity of depression in the last two weeks in both clinical and non-clinical settings, rating people as non-depressed, dysphoric (a state of unease or mental discomfort), and dysphoric or depressed.

Other measures include the:

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