Integrating Assessment Data from Multiple Informants
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the consequences for measurement of child psychiatric disorder (conduct and oppositional disorders) of not integrating the data on the same individual from different informants compared with integrating the information from parents and teachers, using three different strategies. METHOD: Data for the study came from problem checklist assessments done by parents and teachers of children aged 6 to 16 years (N = 1,134) selected with known probability from a general population sample and from structured interviews obtained in a stratified random subsample (n = 251). RESULTS: As expected, parent-teacher agreement was low. The pattern of associated features of disorder was found to vary markedly in parent-identified compared with teacher-identified disorder. Furthermore, combining informants had the disadvantage of masking the distinctive patterns of associated features noted in informant-specific disorders. Finally, by treating disorder as informant-specific, the internal properties of the measure are not generally inferior to those obtained by combining informants in various ways. CONCLUSION: Child psychiatric disorders should be conceptualized as informant-specific phenomena.
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