Reliability of telepsychiatry assessments: Subjective versus observational ratings

Beverly N. Jones, Deirdre Johnston, Beth Reboussin, W. Vaughn Mccall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Geriatric patients in underserved areas could benefit from the use of telecommunications to expand access to mental health services. It is important to determine the clinical limitations of using videoconferencing for psychiatric assessments, particularly in the elderly. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that videoconferencing ratings based on visual observations of behavior would be less reliable than ratings based on patients' verbal reports of symptoms. Videoconferencing assessments of 30 geriatric patients using low-bandwidth (ISDN) equipment were compared to gold standard face-to-face assessments. The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) was dichotomized into subjective items based on patients' verbal reports and observational items based on visual ratings of behavior. Reliability of the BPRS subjective items was consistently higher than for the observational items. Future studies should emphasize the accuracy of telemedicine ratings that require visual observation of behavior, which is crucial to clinical assessment of psychogeriatric conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-71
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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