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Validity of Reliability: Comparison of Interrater Reliabilities of Psychopathological Symptoms

Pethõ, Bertalan MD, DSc*; Tusnády, Gábor DSc; Vargha, András DSc; Tolna, Judit MD, PhD§; Farkas, Márta MD§; Vizkeleti, Györgyi§; Tóth, Agoston MD; Szilágyi, András MD; Bitter, István MD, DSc§; Kelemen, András MD; Czobor, Pál PhD§#

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: July 2007 - Volume 195 - Issue 7 - p 606-613
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318093f45d
Original Article

We have tested the stability of interrater reliability of psychiatric symptoms over a quarter of century using 2 rating scales. Interrater reliabilities of items of 2 psychiatric rating scales employed by 2 consecutive follow-ups were compared. Interrater reliabilites proved to be by and large stable. Interrater reliability depends on the standard deviation of the items scores. In addition to the traditional approach, a new statistical method for unifying the assessments from multiple raters is also presented. Using this method, we demonstrated that probabilities of correct ratings are higher in the absence of manifest symptoms, or in the presence of symptoms, as compared with cases characterized by middle scores. To interpret the relationships revealed in the setting of the experiment, we introduce for its theoretical designation the term “validity of reliability.” It is recommended for evaluation of results of rating scales in the context of psychiatric nosology.

*Society of Research of Endogenous Psychoses “2000”; †Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; ‡Institute of Psychology, Eötvös Loránd University; §Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Semmelweis University; ∥Department of Psychiatry, St. Imre Hospital, Budapest, Hungary; ¶Department of Psychiatry, St. György Hospital, Székesfehérvár, Hungary; and #Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York.

The research program “Budapest 2000,” of which this work is part, is supported financially by the Hungarian National Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, No. T 048710, 047144).

Send reprint requests to Bertalan Pethõ, MD, DSc, Society of Research of Endogenous Psychoses “2000,” H-1014 Budapest, Tárnok u. 3, Hungary. E-mail: bpetho@enternet.hu.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.