Assessing psychiatric disorder with a human interviewer or a computer

J Epidemiol Community Health. 1994 Apr;48(2):207-10. doi: 10.1136/jech.48.2.207.


Objective: To compare a self administered computerised assessment of neurotic psychiatric disorder (psychiatric morbidity) with an identical assessment administered by a human interviewer. In particular, to discover whether a computerised assessment overestimates or underestimates the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in relation to a human interviewer.

Setting: A health centre in south east London, UK.

Subjects: A non-consecutive series of health centre attenders. Complete data were available on 92 subjects.

Design: All subjects received both assessments on the same occasion but were randomised to receive either the computerised assessment first or the human interview first.

Results: The mean total score on the assessment was the same for both methods of administration; computer 8.77 v human 8.69 (95% confidence interval for difference -0.70, 0.87). The correlation between the human and interviewer assessments was 0.91.

Conclusion: Self administered computerised assessments are valid, unbiased measures of psychiatric morbidity. In addition to their use as a research tool, they have potential uses in primary care including screening for psychiatric morbidity and in forming the basis for clinical guidelines.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales