Although the use of telemedicine in psychiatry has a long history in providing clinical care to patients, its use in clinical trials research has not yet been commonly employed. Telemedicine allows for the remote assessment of study patients, which could be done by a centralized, highly calibrated, and impartial cohort of raters independent of the study site. This study examined the comparability of remote administration of the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) by videoconference and by telephone to traditional face-to-face administration. Two parallel studies were conducted: one compared face-to-face with videoconference administration (N=35), and the other compared face-to-face with telephone administration (N=35). In each study, depressed patients were interviewed independently twice: once in the traditional face-to-face manner, and the second time by either videoconference or teleconference. A counterbalanced order was used. The mean MADRS score for interviews conducted remotely by videoconference was not significantly different from the mean MADRS scores conducted by face-to-face administration (mean difference=0.51 points), P=.388, intraclass correlation (ICC)=.94, P<0001. Similarly, the mean MADRS score for interviews conducted by telephone was not significantly different from the mean MADRS score conducted by face-to-face administration (mean difference=0.74 points), P=.270, ICC=.93, P<0001. Results of the study support the comparability of remote administration of the MADRS, by both telephone and videoconference, to face-to-face administration. Comparability of the administration mode allows for remote assessment of patients in both research and clinical applications.
2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.