Definition and Measurement of Psychological Distress in Non-Psychiatric Clinical Populations

Matthew Sanville, “Definition and Measurement of Psychological Distress in Non-Psychiatric Clinical Populations”
Mentor: Bhagwant Sindhu, Occupational Science & Technology

Currently there is no specific questionnaire to measure psychological distress in clinical non-psychiatric populations, such as those who have rotator cuff disorders. This issue may be due to psychological distress not being clearly defined in those settings. There are 2 different kinds of definitions, one that is more focused on symptoms of depression and anxiety, and one that is more general in terms of causes and symptoms of psychological distress. Using an inappropriate definition of psychological distress could lead to the selection of an improper questionnaire which could then negatively impact the construct validity of the study. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, find an appropriate definition of psychological distress for non-psychiatric clinical populations. Second, to find which psychological assessment(s) would be appropriate to measure the levels of psychological distress in those populations. A literature review is being performed by searching scientific databases such as PubMed and Medline for relevant research regarding the definition of psychological distress and its measurements. Different scales of measurement will then be compared to determine which would best suit our needs. Our expected results are a clear definition of psychological distress for our research, and the appropriate assessment(s) to measure psychological distress. The umbrella project that this research is contributing to is to observe how mindfulness can influence the recovery process in patients who have undergone rotator cuff surgery. The implications of this research are finding a measure to assess psychological distress in people experiencing rotator cuff disorders. This assessment could then be then used to examine the effect of mindfulness on reducing psychological distress in other groups of people with musculoskeletal disorders.

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