The Afghan Symptom Checklist: A Culturally Grounded Approach to Mental Health Assessment in a Conflict Zone

This article describes a methodology for developing culturally grounded assessment measures in conflict and postconflict situations. A mixed-method design was used in Kabul, Afghanistan, to identify local indicators of distress and develop the 22-item Afghan Symptom Checklist (ASCL). The ASCL contains several indigenous items and items familiar to Western mental health professionals. The ASCL was pilot tested and subsequently administered to 324 adults in 8 districts of Kabul. It demonstrated excellent reliability (a = .93) and good construct validity, correlating strongly with a measure of exposure to war-related violence and loss (r = .70). Results of the survey indicate moderate levels of distress among Afghan men and markedly higher levels of distress and impaired functioning among women (and widows in particular).

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