BACKGROUND: Diagnostic information for psychiatric research often depends on both clinical interviews and medical records. Although discrepancies between these two sources are well known, there have been few studies into the degree and origins of inconsistencies. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We compared data from structured interviews and medical records on 1,970 Han Chinese women with recurrent DSM-IV major depression (MD). Correlations were high for age at onset of MD (0.93) and number of episodes (0.70), intermediate for family history (+0.62) and duration of longest episode (+0.43) and variable but generally more modest for individual depressive symptoms (mean kappa = 0.32). Four factors were identified for twelve symptoms from medical records and the same four factors emerged from analysis of structured interviews. Factor congruencies were high but the correlation of factors between interviews and records were modest (i.e. +0.2 to +0.4). CONCLUSIONS: Structured interviews and medical records are highly concordant for age of onset, and the number and length of episodes, but agree more modestly for individual symptoms and symptom factors. The modesty of these correlations probably arises from multiple factors including i) inconsistency in the definition of the worst episode, ii) inaccuracies in self-report and iii) difficulties in coding medical records where symptoms were recorded solely for clinical purposes.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0028734

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2012

Volume

7

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Age of Onset, Depressive Disorder, Major, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Female, Hospital Records, Humans, Interview, Psychological, Medical Records, Middle Aged, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Reproducibility of Results, Young Adult