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Measures & Ratings Scales 

Psychiatrists often use standardized measurement tools to assist in evaluating patients and the effectiveness of their treatment. Psychiatric measures are designed to improved the reliability and validity of patient assessment and inform clinical judgment. They are not intended to be the only method used to determine a diagnosis or make a clinical decision. A psychiatric measure can take the form of an interview, a questionnaire, or a survey, to name a few, and can be useful for a variety of purposes, such as to:

  • Screen for individuals who need treatment
  • Assess symptoms, functioning, and quality of life
  • Assist in diagnosis according to DSM-IV-TR or a similar system
  • Gauge the level of care needed
  • Monitor beneficial or adverse treatment affects
  • Provide documentation for disability or other benefit determinations

Many measures have specific training requirements. In selecting, applying, and interpreting a particular measure, it is important for the clinician to know how applicable and reliable the instrument is, and the factors that may affect its clinical usefulness. For example, a lengthy structured interview might not be a useful measurement tool to use on a patient with straightforward clinical presentation and an obvious diagnosis. On the other hand, a structured interview or specific symptom assessment tool for a patient with a complex clinical presentation might provide critical information on which to base a diagnosis or treatment plan.

Mental health policy makers and planners may use clinical measures to evaluate an individual provider or group of providers in a health care delivery system. In mental health service systems, scaled assessments and structured interviewing are among the measures used to gauge the efficacy of treatments or measure the success of program revisions. Familiarity with the psychiatric measures used in diagnosis and treatment and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, are essential to allow both clinicians and policy makers to make fully informed decisions about their patients care.

Handbooks on Measures and Ratings Scales

American Psychiatric Publishing (APPI), a division of the American Psychiatric Association, publishes practical guides to the clinical measurements and standards used to diagnose mentally ill patients and evaluate their treatment.

Handbook of Psychiatric Measures

Handbook of Psychiatric Measures contains a wide range of methods for assessing persons with mental health concerns that can easily be incorporated into daily practice and enhance the quality of patient care.



View a complete list of books related to psychiatric measures and ratings scales.