To the Editor.—
In their article in the February issue of the Archives comparing male and female cocaine abusers, Griffen et al1 use scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS)2 to conclude that males recover more rapidly from depression. They say that while HDRS scores for both groups drop significantly during the first 2 weeks of inpatient treatment, the continued decrease during the next 2 weeks is greater for male abusers.Unfortunately, the HDRS does not have differential norms for men and women so we really do not know when each group maximizes its therapeutic potential. A prominent psychological test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory,3 shows though that, on average, women typically get higher scores on its Depression scale than men.If this is equally true for the HDRS (which, according to the reference article,2 has no norms at all and, therefore, no base rates),
Cudrin JM. Gauging Recovery Rates Requires Test Norms. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(11):1054. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810110096017
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