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Psychol Med. 1977 Aug;7(3):505-16.

Reliability of the PSE (ninth edition) used in a population study.


A random sample of 237 women in a south-east London area were seen by non-medical interviewers, trained to use a standard technique (the Present State Examination) to elicit and record psychiatric symptoms. Ninety-five were interviewed a second time by psychiatrists, who also rated audiotape recordings. The reproducibility of the techniques is adequate though not as high, in some respects, as that obtained from out-patient or in-patient samples. This is true at the level of symptom, syndrome, total score, and index of definition of psychiatric disorder. It is concluded that non-medical interviewers can obtain as high reproducibility as psychiatrists on most of the non-psychotic sections of the PSE if they have appropriate training. Repeatability is lower than reproducibility, partly due to fluctuations in clinical condition, partly to environmental changes between interviews, and partly to differential responses to medical and non-medical interviews. Over a short period of time, such as a week, repeatability is satisfactory.

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