Self-Report Inventories in the Study of Depression
The assessment of depression depends on information which is derived for the most part from two different sources: on the one hand, verbal communication, coming principally from the patient himself or from his family, either spontaneously or prompted by questions frome the doctor, and, on the other, observations made by the psychiatrist, especially in relation to peculiarities of behavior such as psychomotor abnormalities. The development of what might be called quantitative psychopathology has led to the introduction of different procedures for the standardization of information: the use of diagnostic criteria and the employment of instruments of measure such as the Observer’s Rating Scales and Self-Report Inventories. The Rating Scales are concerned with all the information, whatever its nature, normally gathered by the observer; the Self-Report Inventories register the subject’s verbal responses to questions put to him in regard to his symptoms at the moment of the examination. There is a certain consensus of opinion which shows a preference for the Rating Scales and a tendency to use the Self-Report Inventories as a last resort, and only when justified by material constraints. The aim of this paper is to submit this opinion to critical examination. In addition, with the aid of a concrete example, we would like to show the usefulness of the Self-Report Inventories at least in some specific situations, provided that they are used in a technically correct manner.
KeywordsDepressed Mood Content Validity Verbal Information Verbal Communication Empirical Validity
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