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Book Review   |    
Kenneth E. Fletcher
Psychiatric Services 2008; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.59.11.1351
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edited by A. John Rush, Jr., M.D., Michael B. First, M.D., and Deborah Blacker, M.D., Sc.D.; Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2008, 828 pages, $195, CD-ROM included

Dr. Fletcher is associate professor of psychiatry at the Center for Mental Health Services, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

This second edition of the Handbook of Psychiatric Measures contains more than 275 of the best known and most useful measures currently available within their respective domains. These measures were compiled "primarily for clinicians who work in mental health or other medical care settings. Its purpose is to inform clinicians about the selection, use, and interpretation of formal assessments … and to assist them in evaluating the potential utility of such measurement tools in clinical practice." However, researchers, policy makers, and students will find this a useful reference book as well.

A few changes are evident in the second edition of this handbook. Authors of each section reevaluated each measure included in the original edition and added other measures considered to be used frequently in clinical practice or research. Some measures were added because they are briefer instruments with acceptable psychometric properties. Editors of each section discuss which measures, if any, have been excluded from this edition and why. However, some of the excluded measures are likely to continue to be of interest to clinicians and researchers, so do not dispose of your first edition.

All of the chapters have been updated based on the most currently available information, including contact information. Three of the four introductory chapters discuss the nature and limitations of clinical measures. Topics discussed include, reliability and validity; considerations in choosing, using, and interpreting measures in particular clinical contexts; and cultural factors that can influence the use of psychiatric measures.

Other chapters present informative descriptions of measures that meet the following criteria: they are written in English, concern data obtained directly from the patient or an informant, can be administered in a psychiatrist's or other mental health professional's office, and sufficient peer-reviewed information regarding the psychometric properties of the measures is available. An attempt was made to include measures that are either widely used by clinicians or third-party payers or that assess a new clinically relevant domain.

Two general types of measures are included: general, non-disorder-specific measures and measures related to DSM-IV diagnostic categories. General measures cover diagnostic interviews for adults; general psychiatric symptoms; mental health or general health status, functioning, and disabilities; quality of life; adverse effects; patient perceptions of care; stress and life events; family risk factors; and suicide risk. Measures related to DSM-IV categories include child and adolescent measures for diagnosis and screening, including scales for infants, toddlers, and pre-school-age children; symptom-specific measures for disorders usually first diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence; child and adolescent measures of functional status; measures for delirium and behavioral measures for cognitive disorders; neuropsychiatric measures for cognitive disorders; and measures for substance use disorders, including both screening and case-finding measures as well as treatment planning and monitoring measures. Measures are also included for the following disorders: psychotic disorders; mood disorders; anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and agoraphobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder; somatoform and factitious disorders and malingering; dissociative disorders; sexual dysfunction and disorders; eating disorders; sleep disorders; impulse-control disorders; and personality disorders, personality traits, and defense mechanisms. A new chapter on aggression measures is included.

A general description of each instrument and its goal are described, followed by a consideration of the practical issues of administration, the measure's psychometric properties, and its clinical utility. Examples of items and responses are given. Contact information for obtaining copies of measures is provided. References and suggested readings are included.

The CD that accompanies the second edition may be something of a disappointment to those who are familiar with the first-edition CD. The second-edition CD no longer includes the full text of the book or the idiosyncratic but very useful search engine. Instead, Adobe Reader PDF versions of a menu and approximately 175 of the measures described in the text are included. To be fair, measures are listed in alphabetical order, so it is easy to find one of them if you know what you are looking for. It is also possible to search across all of the included files from within Adobe Reader. However, the search engine is not as flexible as that on the first-edition CD, and the ability to search the full text of the book and move back and forth between the text and the measures is lost in this version.

However, the combination of the text and CD is still a good investment and a useful resource for clinicians, researchers, students, and policy makers.

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