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Use of psychometric tests in an acute psychiatric department according to ethnicity

  • John E. Berg (a1) and Valentina C. Iversen (a2)


The diagnostic process after referral to an acute psychiatric treatment facility consists of more than the clinical investigation and laboratory tests. Psychometric tests in a broad range of languages may be such an augmentation of our diagnostic armamentarium, especially for immigrants for whom oral understanding of a dialogue may be restricted. The aim of this study was to discover whether such tests are in use, and how they are distributed among different patient categories. All referrals in one calendar year (N = 1168), as they are depicted in the hospital computerized medical records, were investigated. Fifty-six (6.1%) out of 926 ethnic Norwegians and six (3.0%) out of 198 non-Western immigrants were tested, whereas none of the 44 Western immigrants were. The difference between ethnic Norwegians and the immigrants was significant (Z = −3.05 and p = 0.002). Psychometric tests were thus almost not in use, and even less so in immigrants.

The mean number of resident days was higher among those tested, 11.7 (SD = 11.2), versus those not tested, 7.4 (SD = 10.4) days (t = 2.97 and p = 0.004). Among those tested, length of stay was not significantly different; 11.4 and 11.7 days respectively. The patients tested were older than those not tested. Mean age was 43.0 (SD = 14.4) versus 38.8 (SD = 12.1), with t = 2.65 and p = 0.03. Ethnic Norwegians had the longest mean stay, followed by Western immigrants and non-Western immigrants. The difference in resident days between all immigrants and ethnic Norwegians was significant with Z  =  −2.232 and p = 0.026. There was no such difference between Western and non-Western immigrants: Z = −0.057 and p = 0.95. The level of testing was higher in ethnic Norwegians, and the tested patients stayed longer, maybe indicating more time for testing. Whether this low test activity influences treatment quality is an unsettled question.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Dr J.E. Berg, Blakstad Hospital, PO Box 83, 1309 Rud, Norway. E-mail:


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