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Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10 (K10)
Each of the items are scored from 1 for 'none' to 5 for 'all of the time'. Scores for the ten items are summed, yielding a minimum possible score of 10 and a maximum possible score of 50, with low scores indicating low levels of psychological distress and high scores indicating high levels of psychological distress.
K10 results are commonly grouped for output. Results are grouped into the following four levels of psychological distress:
Based on research from other population studies, a very high level of psychological distress shown by the K10 may indicate a need for professional help.
In Australia, national level information on psychological distress using the K10 was first collected in the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (SMHWB) conducted by the ABS in 1997 and later in 2007. The K10 was included in NHS consistently since 2001 as it proved to be a better predictor of depression and anxiety disorders than the other short, general measures used in the 1997 SMHWB. For further information about ABS use of the instrument, refer to Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS surveys (cat. no. 4817.0.55.001).
The questionnaire, data items and related output categories for this topic are available in pdf / Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.
Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
Comparability with 2014-15
The data are considered directly comparable between 2014-15 and 2017-18. Users should note that the version of K10 used in the NHS is slightly different to that used in the Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (see information paper Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, in Other Scales and Measures, National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Users' Guide, 2007 (cat. no. 4327.0)).
In 2017-18 and 2014-15 NHS an additional screening question was asked to determine whether there were any days in the last 4 weeks when the respondent had difficulty managing work, study or their day to day activities because of these feelings before they were asked on how many days this occurred.
More information regarding comparisons between 2014-15 NHS and previous cycles is available in the National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4363.0)
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