Reasons for the development of structured interviewing and rating instruments

The training of all mental health professionals includes instruction in some system of information gathering and recording based upon a conceptual structure that helps them to organize the large amount of information they usually need to collect. With experience, the list of headings under which this information is collected becomes incorporated in the professional's mind as an automatically available guide to the conduct of assessment interviews. For research purposes, however, it is necessary to demonstrate overtly that the essential topics have been covered in a comprehensive and systematic manner. In many types of research not only the headings covered but the detailed items also need to be recorded so that others studying the results of the research can be confident that nothing was missed, and that the information obtained was not a biased selection of the total that might have been available. It has also been generally recognized since the 1950s that for purposes of communication between researchers in different centres, conclusions must be based upon information that has been shown to have a satisfactory inter-rater reliability.

With these aims in mind, detailed and comprehensive structured interviewing and rating schedules for recording many varieties of information have been developed (nowadays these are usually called 'instruments'; for brevity this term will be used to cover any sort of published interviewing and rating schedule). The most common types cover the present mental state and behaviour. Most of these instruments are not appropriate for use in everyday clinical work because they have been designed for research studies, but nevertheless it is useful for clinicians to know something about how they originated. (45>

Since the first appearance of partly or fully structured psychiatric rating instruments in the 1950s, there has been a steady increase in their number, type, and complexity. In the discussion that follows, some of the most widely used instruments are commented upon as examples but many others are available that are not mentioned. Comprehensive lists of such instruments can be found in catalogues of instruments and reviews by the WHO and others. (4 dZ4849 a^50

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