Are research interview techniques adequate in assessing signs and symptoms? This question is investigated by obtaining two sets of interview schedule ratings on 49 patients, one by a research psychiatrist applying the interview and one by the patient's psychiatrist using all available information. The latter was considered a clinical standard with which a cross-sectional research interview could be contrasted.
These two data sets were subjected to several types of analysis commonly undertaken with research interview ratings. Results indicated that the research interview adequately represents symptom data, but is seriously lacking in the assessment of observed behaviour. The effect of this difference depends on the goals of the study and the nature of the data analysis. If overall group findings are desired, or if analysis relies primarily on symptom data, results with a research interview may be similar to results based on a far more extensive evaluation. On the other hand, if conclusions are to be drawn on individual patients, or if data analysis relies heavily on observed behaviour, then data derived from research interviews are questionable.