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Compr Psychiatry. 1991 Mar-Apr;32(2):166-9.

The reliability of abuse history reports: a comparison of two inquiry formats.

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  • 1Evaluative Service Unit, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178.


We compared patients' reports about histories of physical or sexual abuse in two independent formats: the standard psychiatric intake interview at admission for inpatient treatment, and a subsequent confidential self-report survey about various forms of early childhood trauma. For 92 consecutively admitted female patients, nearly all reports of abuse histories obtained in the intake interview were consistent with later reports obtained in the survey. However, findings of no abuse history obtained in the intake format were frequently inconsistent with reports obtained in the survey, which were twice as frequent as intake reports. Gender of the intake interviewer was not related to reporting. These data suggest caution in accepting at face value initial denials of abuse histories.

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