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J Abnorm Psychol. 1991 Aug;100(3):308-15.

DSM-IV: empirical guidelines from psychometrics.

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  • 1Psychology Department, University of North Carolina, Greensboro 27412.


This commentary addresses the use of psychometric theory and methodology in the development of the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Reliability issues include interdiagnostician reliability, temporally consistent diagnoses, and the relations of diagnostic criteria within categories. Validity issues include content validity of the diagnostic criteria, criterion-related validity (the relation between different criterion sets or their algorithms and alternative diagnostic criteria), and construct validity (the relation between diagnostic categories and external validators). Specific questions and methodology to investigate its utility vary with the different uses proposed for the diagnostic system. Specific psychometric methodologies that may be useful in developing the DSM-IV are noted, as are the limitations of psychometrics and their applicability to DSM-IV.

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