Journal Article

Making a Structured Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview Faithful to the Nomenclature

Lee N. Robins and Linda B. Cottler

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 160, issue 8, pages 808-813
Published in print October 2004 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online October 2004 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Making a Structured Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview Faithful to the Nomenclature

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Psychiatric diagnostic interviews to be used in epidemiologic studies by lay interviewers have, since the 1970s, attempted to operationalize existing psychiatric nomenclatures. How to maximize the chances that they do so successfully has not previously been spelled out. In this article, the authors discuss strategies for each of the seven steps involved in writing, updating, or modifying a diagnostic interview and its supporting materials: 1) writing questions that match the nomenclature’s criteria, 2) checking that respondents will be willing and able to answer the questions, 3) choosing a format acceptable to interviewers that maximizes accurate answering and recording of answers, 4) constructing a data entry and cleaning program that highlights errors to be corrected, 5) creating a diagnostic scoring program that matches the nomenclature’s algorithms, 6) developing an interviewer training program that maximizes reliability, and 7) computerizing the interview. For each step, the authors discuss how to identify errors, correct them, and validate the revisions. Although operationalization will never be perfect because of ambiguities in the nomenclature, specifying methods for minimizing divergence from the nomenclature is timely as users modify existing interviews and look forward to updating interviews based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, and the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision.

Keywords: cohort studies; data collection; epidemiologic methods; interviews; mental disorders; psychiatry; Abbreviations: CIDI, Composite International Diagnostic Interview; DIS, Diagnostic Interview Schedule.

Journal Article.  5014 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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