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J Affect Disord. 2009 May;115(1-2):183-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2008.07.026. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Comparison of clinical and research assessments of diagnosis, suicide attempt history and suicidal ideation in major depression.

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New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University 1051 Riverside Drive NY, NY 10032, United States.


A number of studies have compared clinical diagnostic and suicide assessments to standardized schedules to determine the level of agreement. At best there is only moderate diagnostic agreement, but most often it is fair. There are only a few reports comparing clinical assessments for suicidal behavior with standardized schedules. We present the data from 201 inpatient admissions for major depression that had both clinical diagnostic and suicide evaluations by PGYII resident physicians under supervision from an attending psychiatrist and research evaluations using standardized schedules for diagnosis and suicide by at least masters' level clinicians. There was moderate agreement for diagnosis and suicide attempt history but only fair agreement for the presence of suicidal ideation using Cohen's kappa statistic. In regards to suicide attempt history a cross-tabulation demonstrated that 18.7% of those patients identified by a research schedule as having a past suicide attempt were not identified as such by the clinicians. A cross-tabulation demonstrated that 29.7% of those patients identified by structured interview as having suicidal ideation were not identified as such by the clinician. There was a statistically significant difference in the level of agreement for suicide attempt history between clinical and research assessments for attempts within a year of admission and those beyond a year. These findings suggest the importance of adding a structured diagnostic and suicide assessment to routine clinical care to improve the reliability and validity of clinical evaluations and to inform treatment planning to benefit our patients.

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