June 2012, 2:3,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 25 Jun 2012
Psychological well-being and psychological distress: is it necessary to measure both?
The objectives of the study were to explore a self-report measure for psychological well-being and to investigate the relationship between psychological well-being and psychological distress.
Telephone interviews of a representative sample of adults (N = 1933) collected information about sociodemographic variables, a standardised measure of psychological distress, and three brief existing scales to assess aspects of psychological well-being: Positive Relations with Others, Environmental Mastery, and Satisfaction with Life. The total of these three scales was also computed and explored as a measure of overall well-being.
Variables positively associated with psychological well-being were negatively associated with psychological distress and vice versa. For example low psychological well-being and high psychological distress were associated with being the only adult in the household, speaking a language other than English at home, being divorced or separated, having no educational qualifications beyond secondary school, being unable to work, having a low income, renting one’s accommodation, and receiving a pension.
The measure of well-being shows psychometric promise for community surveys. Psychological well-being is not exactly the opposite end of the continuum to psychological distress, but more debate is needed about whether and when, research participants need to be asked questions about both.
Australia Bureau of Statistics: 3235.0 Population by Age and Sex, South Australia, 30 June 2007. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra; 2007.
Australian Bureau of Statistics: 4817.0.55.001 Information Paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS Health Surveys. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra; 2001.
Beck L: Social status, social support, and stress: A comparative review of the health consequences of social control factors. Health Psychology Review 2007, 1:186–207.CrossRef
Berkman L, Breslow L: Health and ways of living. Oxford Press, New York; 1983.
Deci EL, Ryan RM: Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. Journal of Happiness Studies 2008, 9:1–11. doi:10.1007/s10902-006-9018-1CrossRef
Diener E, Scollon CKN, Oishi S, Dzokoto V, Suh EM: Positivity and the construction of life satisfaction judgements: Global happiness is not the sum of its parts. Journal of Happiness Studies 2000, 1:159–176.CrossRef
Foresight Mental Capital and Wellbeing Project: Mental Capital and Wellbeing: Making the most of ourselves in the 21st century – Executive Summary. Government Office for Science, London; 2008.
Freidli L: Mental health, resilience and inequalities. World Health Organisation Europe, Copenhagen; 2009.
Huppert FA: Psychological well-being: Evidence regarding its causes and consequences. Applied Psychology: Health and Well‒Being 2009, 1:137–164. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2009.01008.xCrossRef
Keyes CLM, Wissing M, Potgieter JP, Temane M, Kruger A, van Rooy S: Evaluation of the mental health continuum-short form (MHC-SF) in Setswana-speaking South Africans. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy 2008, 15:181–192.CrossRef
MacMahan EA, Estes D: Age-related differences in lay conceptions of well-being and experienced well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies 2011. doi:10.1007/s10902-2111-9251-0 published online 15 February 2011
Manning M, Munro D: The Survey Researcher’s SPSS Cookbook. 2nd edition. Pearson Education, Sydney; 2007.
Ryff CD: Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1989, 57:1069–1081. doi:10.1037//0022-3522.214.171.1249CrossRef
Warr P, Barter J, Brownbridge B: On the independence of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1983, 44:644–651. doi:10.1037//0022-35126.96.36.1994CrossRef
- Psychological well-being and psychological distress: is it necessary to measure both?
- Open Access
- Available under Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Psychology of Well-Being
- Online Date
- June 2012
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Psychological well-being
- Life satisfaction
- Psychological distress
- Author Affiliations
- 1. School of Psychology & Discipline of Psychiatry, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia
- 2. Population Research and Outcome Studies, Discipline of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia