APH 1998, 56, 333-344:

The reliability of the clinical assessment of psychiatric emergency referrals.

D.J. Spooren, K. van Heeringen, and C. Jannes

Keywords: emergency psychiatry, assessment, reliability, interviewer-observer, test-retest

The reliability of the assessment of patients referred to the psychiatric emergency department of four public hospitals was studied under two different conditions. An interviewer-observer design was used in two hospitals and a test-retest study in the other hospitals. In each hospital at least 50 patients were included.  Results showed good reliability for sociodemographic variables. However, considerable differences in inter-observer agreement between the four hospitals were found for clinical characteristics. lt appeared that disagreement was mainly related to the method used and to the level of previous training of the clinicians, which participated in the study. The findings indicate the need of a previous formal training of clinicians before taking part in a monitoring project.