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Distress disclosure and psychological wellbeing

This report investigated the relationship between levels of distress disclosure and psychological wellbeing in the general population.

Two measures of psychological wellbeing were used 'the 12' item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) and a self-reported rating of participants' mental health in the previous 12 months. Distress disclosure was measured using a 12-item Likert scale called the Distress Disclosure Index. Distress disclosure was defined as an individual's willingness to disclose distressing personal information to others.

A nationally representative sample of 2,711 adults aged 18 years and over living in private households in Ireland was surveyed. Four socio-demographic determinants of levels of distress disclosure were explored including gender, age, marital status and geographic location. The association between distress disclosure and psychological wellbeing was investigated.

The Distress Disclosure Index was found to be a statistically valid, unidimensional measure. Statistically significant differences were found in levels of distress disclosure in terms of the four socio-demographic variables and significant correlations were found between levels of distress disclosure and psychological wellbeing. 

Those most willing to disclose distressing information to others were females and those in the younger age groups.  Furthermore a greatest willingness to disclose distressing information was related to better mental health.  The findings have important implications for the promotion of psychological health and wellbeing and help seeking behaviour.       

A full copy of the report is available in the publications section of the HRB website at www.hrb.ie/publications