Measuring psychological distress using the K10 in Kenya

Ongeri L, Ametaj A, Kim H, Stroud RE, Newton CR, Kariuki SM, Atwoli L, Kwobah E, Gelaye B
J Affect Disord. 2022;303

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BACKGROUND: The Kessler psychological distress scale (K10) is a brief screening tool that assesses psychological distress in both clinical and epidemiological settings. Despite wide applicability of the K10 globally, there are no data on psychometric properties of the K10 in Kenya. This study investigated the reliability, factor structure, and construct validity of the K10 as a measure of psychological distress among adults in Kenya. METHODS: A total of 2556 adults attending 11 outpatient clinics in the western and coastal regions of Kenya without a history or clinical diagnosis of psychotic disorders were included. Data were collected on demographic characteristics of the participants and the K10. Internal consistency was evaluated using Cronbach's alpha. Construct validity and factor structures of the K10 were evaluated using both exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) approaches. RESULTS: The mean K10 score was 3.4 and Cronbach's alpha was 0.85, indicating good internal consistency (reliability). EFA resulted in a two-factor solution that accounted for 67.6% of variance. CFA results indicated that a unidimensional model with correlated errors best fit the data. LIMITATIONS: The K10 was only administered to a control group of our study population, which had low levels of psychological distress. CONCLUSION: The K10 has good construct validity and reliability for use as a broad measure of psychological distress in Kenyan adults and may be useful in general medical setting to assess anxiety and depressive disorders.