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American Journal of Psychiatry


Objective: Psychiatric researchers rely heavily on patient report data for clinical research. However, patient reports are prone to defensive and self-presentation biases. Recent research using practice networks has relied on clinician reports, and both forensic and personality disorder researchers have recently turned to quantified data from clinically expert observers as well. However, critics have raised legitimate concerns about the reliability and validity of data from clinician informants. The aim of this study was to assess the validity and diagnostic efficiency of clinician reports of their patients' adaptive functioning and developmental histories, using patient reports as the comparative standard traditionally used in psychiatric research. Method: Eighty-four clinicians and their patients completed a clinical data form designed to assess a range of patient functioning, clinical history, and developmental relationship variables used in multiple clinician report studies. The authors correlated clinician and patient reports across a number of clinically relevant adaptive functioning variables and calculated diagnostic efficiency statistics for a range of clinical history variables, including suicide attempts, hospitalizations, arrests, interpersonal conflicts affecting employment, and childhood physical and sexual abuse. Results: Across variables, patient-therapist correlations (0.40-0.66) and overall correct classification statistics (0.74-0.96) were high. Conclusions: The data demonstrate that clinicians' judgments about their patients' functioning and histories agree with patients' self-reports and that in areas of discrepancy, clinicians tend to make appropriately conservative judgments in the absence of clear data. These findings suggest that quantified clinical judgment provides a vast untapped potential for large-sample research on psychopathology and treatment.





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