Development of a Cardiac Distress Scale

Despite the high prevalence of distress amongst cardiac patients, there is currently no validated instrument to measure patients’ level of distress. We are developing the Cardiac Distress Scale, a parallel measure to the Diabetes Distress Scale and similar to a range of cancer distress measures.

Distress is distinct from depression. ‘Distress’ includes the range of emotions that patients typically experience after an acute event – namely, shock, anxiety, worry, guilt, anger, and sadness. ‘Depression’ – a serious medical condition – includes profound feelings of sadness most of the time, and a lack of interest or enjoyment in most activities, including those that the patient has previously enjoyed.

The Cardiac Distress Scale will complement the Cardiac Depression Scale by enabling accurate assessment of distress which does not meet criteria for a diagnosis of depression, thus enabling more targeted intervention.

We are collaborating with researchers from other institutions for this project, including colleagues from the Australian Catholic University and the Sydney Diabetes Psychological Services.

Funding: Australian Centre for Heart Health