Psychological Distress Profile


Authors: Gary Elkins, PhD, ABPP, and Aimee Johnson, PhD

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

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  • $50.00
    Includes details on reliability, validity, scoring, etc. and a review-only copy of the PDP form. PDFs are not refundable.
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  • $15.00
    Builds a report that interprets an individual's PDP scores. You invite participants to take the survey and Transform™ generates their reports.
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  • $20.00
    Interprets and reports on your PDP scores. You complete the survey and Transform™ generates your report. Transform will connect this report to the "Send To" email provided at checkout. Note: This product is for a single use, with automated survey administration. For multiple uses, buy instead the Individual Report product in quantity needed.
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  • $200.00
    Builds a report that calculates and summarizes average PDP scores for a group of participants.
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  • $2.50
    Minimum purchase of 20. Allows you to administer the PDP as an online survey using Mind Garden's Transform™ System. Includes data collection: data file with participants' raw data and raw scale scores. Optionally, Individual Reports can be generated from the collected data - requires the purchase of report licenses. Customization services are available.
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  • $2.50
    Minimum purchase of 50. Allows you to administer the PDP as an online survey via a non-Mind Garden survey system. The downloadable PDF file includes one copy of the PDP, scoring key, and permission to administer the PDP for up to the quantity purchased. The PDF is non-refundable.
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  • $2.50
    Minimum purchase of 50. Allows you to administer the PDP via a paper and pencil survey. The downloadable PDF file includes one copy of the PDP, scoring key, and permission to reproduce/administer the PDP for up to the quantity purchased. The PDF is non-refundable.
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  • $60.00
    Includes details on reliability, validity, scoring, etc. and a review-only copy of the PDP form. This is a paper product. The manual will be printed, bound, and shipped to you (FedEx shipping costs apply).
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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.

  • Screening for distress in medical and psychiatric settings.
  • Psychological and health research
  • Differentiating depression, hopelessness, anxiety, and anger as underlying dimensions of global psychological distress.
  • Clinical diagnosis
  • Tracking response to treatment for psychological distress.

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.

From PDP author Gary Elkins

"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

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