Measuring psychological distress in older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Australians: A comparison of the K-10 and K-5

Bridgette J. McNamara, Emily Banks, Lina Gubhaju, Anna Williamson, Grace Joshy, Beverley Raphael, Sandra J. Eades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To assess the cross-cultural validity of two Kessler psychological distress scales (K-10 and K-5) by examining their measurement properties among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and comparing them to those in non-Aboriginal individuals from NSW Australia. Methods: Self-reported questionnaire data from the 45 and Up Study for 1,631 Aboriginal and 231,774 non-Aboriginal people were used to examine the factor structure, convergent validity, internal consistency and levels of missing data of K-10 and K-5. Results: We found excellent agreement in classification of distress of Aboriginal participants by K-10 and K-5 (weighted kappa=0.87), high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha K-10: 0.93, K-5: 0.88), and factor structures consistent with those for the total Australian population. Convergent validity was evidenced by a strong graded relationship between the level of distress and the odds of: problems with daily activities due to emotional problems; current treatment for depression or anxiety; and poor quality of life. Conclusions and implications: K-10 and K-5 scales are promising tools for measuring psychological distress among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 45 and over in research and clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-573
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal Australians
  • cross-cultural validity
  • Kesser scales
  • psychological distress
  • psychometric

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