Measuring psychological distress symptoms in individuals living with HIV in western Kenya

Enbal Shacham, Michael Reece, Patrick O. Monahan, Violet Yebei, Otieno Omollo, Willis Owino Ong'or, Claris Ojwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: As the HIV-related infrastructure continues to develop in sub-Saharan African countries, it will be important to consider appropriate mechanisms that will support attention to psychological distress among those seeking care and treatment. Aim: The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability and validity of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) in order to consider its potential for use in measuring psychological distress symptoms among individuals living with HIV in Kenya. Method: Data were collected from a convenience sample of 397 individuals living with HIV who were participating in psychosocial support groups as part of their care in a large HIV-related treatment and prevention program in western Kenya. Internal consistency, factorial validity, and convergent validity analyses were conducted to measure the reliability and validity of the BSI. Test-retest reliability measures were conducted with a sample size of 187. Content validity was assessed during four single-gendered focus groups, in which a total of 24 individuals participated. Results: Multiple analyses revealed test-retest reliability levels ranging from.51 to.95 on the BSI subscales and overall global severity index. Conclusions: The findings suggest that the BSI may serve as a reliable instrument for assessing psychological distress in Kenya. However, further research is needed to continue understanding issues associated with the measurement of psychological distress in this particular country and across its cultural groups. Declaration of interest: None.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-434
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008


  • AIDS
  • BSI
  • HIV
  • Kenya
  • Mental health
  • Psychological distress
  • Reliability
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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