Screening for psychological distress in the general population : acceptability and validation of a brief measure of psychological distress.




Johnson, Aimee K.

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With the increasing costs and utilization of health care services, and evidence for under-diagnosis of psychological distress, a brief multidimensional screening measure that includes the most salient constructs of psychological distress (depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and anger) is needed. Such a scale could potentially detect psychological distress and provide clinicians with a practical instrument that identifies patients who may require additional psychological evaluation. Although initial data for the Elkins Distress Scale (EDS), has indicated good reliability and validity in psychiatric and collegiate samples, it has not been determined if the instrument is equally suitable for members of the general population. To attempt to meet the need for a brief screening instrument, it is necessary to collect normative data to ensure that the EDS can discriminate between distressed individuals and non-distressed individuals. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is to evaluate the validity, acceptability and model fit of the EDS in a sample of the adult general population, and to determine the EDS's utility as a multidimensional state measure. The goal of Study 1 was to collect normative data to determine the reliability, validity, model fit, and acceptability in a sample of the general population. Study 2 and 3 determined if the EDS is suitable to be utilized as a state screening measure of psychological distress by analyzing longitudinal data obtained from a psychiatric and a general population sample. The study was conducted via Amazon's Mechanical Turk (MTurk), and participants were asked to complete the EDS in addition to well-validated scales assessing each domain of distress. Item analyses, convergent and divergent validity, incremental validity, and confirmatory analyses suggest that this scale has potential as a reliable and valid clinical tool in the general population to implement as a brief screening measure of psychological distress.



Psychological distress screening., Elkins Distress Scale., Distress (Psychology).