The Psychological Distress Profile (PDP) is a highly useful self-report instrument for measuring psychological distress in adults within the general population. The PDP can be effectively utilized in clinical and counseling settings, and can be used as a research instrument as it is very sensitive to measuring changes in psychological distress. Administration instructions can be easily followed by most respondents and the PDP is scored yielding a profile of psychological distress across four dimensions: Depression, Hopelessness, Anxiety and Anger.
In addition to a profile of psychological distress, the PDP includes demographic questions, and a fact sheet that provides clinically relevant information, identifying key risk factors for establishing a history of psychological distress. The PDP profile interpretation is designed to quickly provide more insight than a single-item distress scale. This brief screening instrument of psychological distress is highly useful and feasible given health care professionals’ restricted time and need for objective measures of distress and outcomes of treatment.
Copyright © 2015 by Gary Elkins and Aimee Johnson
Features of the PDP
Purpose: Measure four common domains of psychological distress: depression, hopelessness, anxiety, and anger
Length: 20 items
Average completion time: 5 minutes
Target population: Ages 18-81
Administration: For individual or group administration
Uses of the PDP
The PDP was developed to serve as a brief self-report measure of psychological distress that can be easily administered by office administrative staff or clinicians in a waiting room or similar setting. As psychological distress may increase health care costs, prolong medical treatment, and lead to unnecessary hospitalization, early identification and intervention may produce a significant financial benefit to both health care providers and patients alike.
Given the increasing cost of mental healthcare services, a brief screening measure that incorporates the commonly utilized constructs of distress meets a critical need to identify psychological distress without increasing the burden on patients or professionals. Based on these considerations, a brief scale was developed to capture all four constructs believed to be of critical importance when assessing psychological distress.
According to the World Health Organization, depressive disorders are one of the leading causes of disease worldwide with reported prevalence of depressive episodes being 16 per 100,000 people per year for males, and 25 per 100,000 people per year for females. Estimates suggest that 6.7 % of the U.S. adult population suffers from major depressive disorder, and 30.4 % of these cases are classified as severe. The Depression sub-scale correlates with other standard measures of depression and a negative mood state.
Hopelessness is a construct closely linked to depression, and has been found to be one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of suicide ideation, suicidal intent, and completed suicide. As a feeling, hopelessness reflects a negative expectancy for things to improve for the person in the future.
Anxiety is another frequent construct from the domain of psychological distress. Anxiety has a high prevalence in society — estimates suggest that 18.1% of the U.S. adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder, with 22.8% of these cases classified as severe anxiety disorders (e.g. specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder). Anxiety disorders are commonly comorbid with other mood disorders, especially major depressive disorder.
Anger, as a construct, is rarely employed in psychometric instruments of psychological distress; however, as anger can seriously affect clinical outcomes, this is an oversight. It has been reported that anger from any cause can block effective interaction between the patient and caregiver (Fava et al., 1993). Therefore, the inclusion of the construct of anger to a measure of psychological distress is of critical clinical importance.
"There is a substantial need for time-efficient screening procedures to assist in identifying distressed patients who are at risk for future health care utilizations. The PDP identifies the primary constructs that allow for optimal prediction of psychological distress. The PDP was developed to provide a clinically useful profile of the multiple dimensions of psychological distress and thereby effective screening and assessment. The PDP is a simple and time-efficient screening instrument that can assist in clinical diagnosis. It can identify patients who are most at risk and provides essential data to determine improvements in depression, hopelessness, anxiety and anger. As a screening instrument it can be used to help meliorate the growing health care costs by identifying patients that would benefit from further evaluation. For example, results of a longitudinal study indicated that depression scores alone predicted an increase of inpatient (24.1%) and outpatient costs (8.9%) and that comorbidity predicted up to 50% increase in overall health costs (Grabe, Baumeister, John, Freyberger, & Volzke, 2009). The PDP can assist the clinician in patient care and be used within health care systems to improve quality of care and reduce costs."
-- From the Author, Gary Elkins, Ph.D., ABPP, November 13, 2014