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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;57(7):675-82.

Brief screening for family psychiatric history: the family history screen.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032, USA. weissman@child.cpmc.columbia.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Brief screens to collect lifetime family psychiatric history are useful in clinical practice and for identifying potential families for genetic studies.

METHODS:

The Family History Screen (FHS) collects information on 15 psychiatric disorders and suicidal behavior in informants and their first-degree relatives. Since each question is posed only once about all family members as a group, the administrative time is 5 to 20 minutes, depending on family size and illness. Data on the validity against best-estimate (BE) diagnosis based on independent and blind direct interviews on 289 probands and 305 relatives and test-retest reliability across 15 months in 417 subjects are presented.

RESULTS:

Agreement between FHS and BE diagnosis for proband and relative self-report had median sensitivity (SEN) of 67.6 and 71.1 respectively; median specificity (SPC) was 87.6 and 89.4, respectively. Marked decrease in SEN occurred when a single informant (the proband) reported on a relative (median, 37.5); however, median SPC was 95.8. Use of more than 1 informant substantially improved SEN (median, 68.2), with a modest reduction in SPC (median, 86.8). Test-retest reliability across 15 months resulted in a median kappa of 0.56.

CONCLUSIONS:

The FHS is a promising brief screen for collecting lifetime psychiatric history on an informant and/or first-degree relatives. Its validity is best demonstrated for major depression, anxiety disorders, substance dependence (alcohol and drug dependence), and suicide attempts. It is not a substitute for more lengthy family history if more detail on diagnosis is required.

PMID:
10891038
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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