Initial encounters between people with a mild mental handicap and psychiatrists: an investigation of a method of evaluating interview skills


M. S. Duckworth, Senior Lecturer, School of Speech and Language Therapy, Cardiff Institute of Higher Education, Western Avenue, Cardiff CE5 2YB, Wales.


ABSTRACT. This study repons the results of an initial study into the ability of psychiatrists to interview people with a mild mental handicap who are accompanied by a caregiver. Initial interviews by 12 psychiatrists of different ages (30–57 years) and differing levels of experience with this client group were recorded on video tape. Three of the recordings were used to train four judges who were familiar with examining clinical interactions, though not between doctors and patients. The judges used a specially designed rating scale. The remaining nine interviews were evaluated independendy by the four judges. There was a correlation of 0.65 (Kendall's coefficient of concordance, W) for the judges' evaluations using the rating scale for the nine interviewers. However, there was greater agreement between judges as to who were the best and worst interviewers (W=0.86). Some of the aspects of the interviews which contributed to the variability in the judgments are discussed.