What is it about?

Despite the widespread use of the term in a variety of clinical and research studies, as a concept, psychological distress is seldom defined and without any clear definitional boundaries. Based on a critical review of the existing literature, as well as on a clinimetric analysis of the revised version of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist, the SCL-90-R, a comprehensive definition of psychological distress was outlined and clinimetric indices for the evaluation of subjective experiences of psychological suffering were developed and validated.

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Why is it important?

The findings of the present study indicate that the SCL-90-R subscales were found to be highly valid clinimetric indices that can be used to improve the detection of clinically significant levels of subjective distress.


Simple reference to psychological distress without providing a clear conceptualization of this clinical phenomenon is no longer acceptable. Our findings pave the ground for a clinimetric conceptualization and assessment of this unique experience of discomfort that may involve a sense of subjective incompetence (e.g., a state of demoralization), the experience of feeling broken or mental suffering, a sense of anguish, symptoms of somatization, feelings of anger, a perception of lack of control, and self-criticism.

Danilo Carrozzino
Universita degli Studi di Bologna

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This page is a summary of: The concept of psychological distress and its assessment: A clinimetric analysis of the SCL-90-R., International Journal of Stress Management, December 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/str0000280.
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