Computerized assessment of depression and anxiety over the telephone using interactive voice response

MD Comput. 1999 May-Jun;16(3):64-8.


We examined the reliability and validity of computer-administered versions of the Hamilton Depression (HAMD) and Hamilton Anxiety (HAMA) Rating Scales that were administered over the telephone using Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In two identical studies (HAMD: N = 113, HAMA: N = 74), both the IVR- and clinician-administered versions were administered in a counterbalanced order to a heterogeneous sample of subjects with psychiatric disorders and controls. Both the IVR HAMD and HAMA demonstrated adequate internal-consistency reliability (.90 and .93, respectively) and test-retest reliability (.74 and .97, respectively). The correlation between the IVR and clinician was high (HAMD = .96; HAMA = .65). The mean score difference between the IVR and clinician versions was less than one point for both the HAMD (.69 of a point) and HAMA (.60 of a point). It took subjects 12.23 minutes to complete the IVR HAMD, compared to 15.21 minutes for the clinician version; and 11.27 minutes for the IVR HAMA, compared to 15.33 minutes for the clinician (p < .001 for both comparisons). Subjects rated the clinician better in the areas of how much they liked being interviewed and how well they were able to describe their feelings. However, they were significantly more embarrassed with the clinician than with the IVR. Results support the psychometric properties of the IVR versions of the HAMD and HAMA scales. IVR technology presents new opportunities for expanding the utility of computerized clinical assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Computer Security
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Online Systems*
  • Personality Inventory* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telephone*