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Some problems with research methods used in diagnostic surveys 

Some problems with research methods used in diagnostic surveys
Some problems with research methods used in diagnostic surveys

John E. Cooper

and Norman Sartorius

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date: 19 November 2018

Since the presence of psychiatric disorders in the subjects of a survey is assessed by means of an interview, the training of the interviewer and the nature of the method of questioning will have a large effect upon what is recorded. A lay interviewer using the DIS or CIDI records the complaints of the subject whereas a psychiatrically trained interviewer using the PSE or SCAN records the symptoms. The extent to which these are equivalent for diagnostic purposes has been studied several times, and the conclusion is that they have considerable differences. In the absence of independent diagnostic tests, whether symptoms are preferable to complaints is a matter of opinion to be decided by the designers of each survey. In all survey schedules, the rating scales used for the questions are likely to be more useful if they are short rather than long and detailed. Designers of surveys also need to be aware of the differences between bottom-up and top-down schedules.

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