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August 1982

Best Estimate of Lifetime Psychiatric DiagnosisA Methodological Study

Author Affiliations

From the Depression Research Unit, Connecticut Mental Health Center (Drs Leckman, Sholomskas, Thompson, and Weissman and Mr Belanger), the Department of Psychiatry (Drs Leckman and Weissman) and the Child Study Center (Dr Leckman), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(8):879-883. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290080001001

• It is important for genetic, epidemiologic, and nosological studies to determine accurate rates of lifetime psychiatric diagnoses in patient and nonpatient populations. As part of a case-control family study of major depression, lifetime psychiatric diagnoses were made for 1,878 individuals. Sources of information used in making diagnostic estimates included direct interview, medical records, and family history data systematically obtained from relatives. Diagnostic estimates were made by trained interviewers, experienced clinicians, and by computer program. The results indicate that it is possible to make lifetime best estimate diagnoses reliably among both interviewed and noninterviewed individuals for most diagnostic categories and that diagnoses based on interview data alone are an adequate substitute for best estimate diagnoses based on all available information in a limited number of diagnostic categories.