Structured interviews and questionnaires

These instruments are used mainly in research work. Their purpose is collection of data in a reliable standard form, minimizing the bias, which can arise from variation in individual interview technique. They can be administered by trained personnel other than psychiatrists.

Well-known examples of structured interviews are the Present State Examination (PSE) and its later development, the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN), which is analysed by computer (CATEGO program) to produce a diagnosis; the Standardized Psychiatric Interview (SPI) or Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS), developed for use in general practice and concerned largely with neurotic symptoms; and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID).

A widely used questionnaire is the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), a self-rating instrument used to detect probable cases of psychiatric disorder in general practice settings or community surveys. Many other questionnaires, both self-rating and observer rating, exist for specific parameters such as depression, anxiety, or cognitive impairment.

Computer programs for direct self-assessment of patients have been used in research projects and found to be valid, acceptable, and cost-effective for certain psychiatric conditions, but seem unlikely to replace clinical interviews in everyday practice.

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