Issues of Reliability and Validity in the Diagnosis of Depression

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Issues of reliability and validity in the diagnosis of depression Depression is most commonly diagnosed using the DSM which consists of nine criteria. If a patient fits with at least 5 of the criteria they are diagnosed with having major depressive disorder. When diagnosing depression it is important to check validity and reliability as otherwise a false diagnosis may occur, or someone with depression would in fact be untreated. The reliability of the DSM however has been questioned. Zimmerman et al suggests that is an unnecessary lengthy scale, therefore giving an unreliable diagnosis. This was shown by a study carried out on 2,500 GPs coming from New Zealand and Australia. Only 25% of them could recall up to 5 of the major depressive symptoms according to the DSM. This suggests that a simplified version of the DSM which is free of somatic symptoms should be administered instead which would be easier to apply to ill patients, so making it a more reliable diagnosis. Moreover, there is also an issue in cultural differences when assessing the reliability and validity of depressive disorder diagnosis. Karasz found that ethnic minorities are less likely to seek help, due to the believing it is a social issue and so self-management is the sure. Whereas Middle class white diagnose the problem as being biological and so are more likely to seek medical help. This suggests that much of the research on outpatients could be culture bias as ethnic minorities do not seek help in the first place. For a diagnosis to be considered reliable it must be consistent over time and between professions. Reliability consistency over time can be assessed using a test-retest method. Additionally inter-rater reliability assesses whether the professionals of second or third parties agree with the diagnosis. Lobbestael assessed the inter-rater reliability of the structural clinical interview,
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