What is the K10 and how is it scored?
The K10 is widely recommended as a simple measure of psychological distress and as a measure of
outcomes following treatment for common mental health disorders. The K10 is in the public domain
and is promoted on the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression website (www.crufad.org)
as a self report measure to identify need for treatment.
Each item is scored from one ‘none of the time’ to five ‘all of the time’. Scores of the 10 items are
then summed, yielding a minimum score of 10 and a maximum score of 50. Low scores indicate low
levels of psychological distress and high scores indicate high levels of psychological distress.
Interpretation of scores
The maximum score is 50 indicating severe distress, the minimum score is 10 indicating no distress.
The 2001 Victorian Population Health Survey adopted a set of cut-off scores that may be used as a
guide for screening for psychological distress. These are outlined below:
K10 Score: Likelihood of having a mental disorder (psychological distress)
10 - 19 Likely to be well
20 - 24 Likely to have a mild disorder
25 - 29 Likely to have a moderate disorder
30 - 50 Likely to have a severe disorder
Questions 3 and 6 are not asked if the preceding question was ‘none of the time’ in which case
questions 3 and 6 would automatically receive a score of one.
For further information on the K10 please refer to www.crufad.org or Andrews, G Slade, T.
Interpreting score on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). Australia and New Zealand
Journal of Public Health: 2001; 25:6: 494-497.