Get access

Women who miscarry: The effectiveness and clinical utility of the Kessler 10 questionnaire in screening for ongoing psychological distress


  • Disclosure of interests: None.

Dr Helen Stallman, O-B530, School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Qld 4059, Australia. Email:


Background:  Early pregnancy loss has been linked to enduring psychological morbidity.

Aims:  This study aimed to investigate the utility of the Kessler 10 (K10) questionnaire as a brief screening instrument to identify women at risk for the development of psychiatric diagnoses three months post-miscarriage.

Method:  Participants were 117 consecutive women presenting at a public hospital emergency department and receiving a diagnosis of miscarriage.

Main outcome measures:  K10 screen for psychological distress and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders to determine psychiatric diagnoses.

Results:  A majority of women (81.2%) experienced elevated levels of distress initially, 24.8% in the very high range. They were not at increased risk of psychiatric diagnoses at three months compared with the general population; however, they were significantly more likely to report subsyndromal symptoms at this time compared with the general population. The baseline K10 score was the only significant predictor of distress at follow-up (= 0.45, < 0.001). The receiver operating characteristic curve shows that a cut-off of 14 on the K10 has suitable sensitivity (97%) and specificity (82%) for predicting ongoing psychological distress in women who miscarry.

Conclusions:  The K10 is effective in identifying women at risk for ensuring psychological symptoms following miscarriage.