Scaling structured interview data: A comparison of two methods

JULIE Cerel, Mary A. Fristad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: Although structured interviews are currently considered essential assessment strategies for conducting research, the data they generate are typically not used for purposes beyond making categorical determinations about diagnoses. Because of the need for dimensional scales to be used in conjunction with categorical data, two dimensional scales constructed from structured interviews are presented and examined. One scale, Behavior, Anxiety, Mood, and Other (BAMO), provides an overall score by summing the percentage of symptoms endorsed for each of 20 behavior, anxiety, mood, and other disorders found in the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents-Revised (DICA-R, DSM-III-R version). Another scale, DICA-SUM, is constructed by summing all endorsed symptoms on the interview. In this study the psychometric and pragmatic characteristics of BAMO and DICA-SUM are compared. Method: Data were obtained from 570 children (331 bereaved, 110 depressed, 129 community) aged 5 to 18 years (mean ± SD = 11.3 ± 3.2) who were interviewed as part of an ongoing longitudinal childhood bereavement study from 1987 to 1996. Results: Discriminant and convergent validity with other child psychopathology measures are comparable for BAMO and DICA-SUM. However, BAMO more clearly conveys information regarding the approximate number of diagnoses endorsed. Conclusion: This study identified two methods of creating dimensional scales from structured interviews. Use of such dimensional scales might allow for improved comparison of results across studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-346
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIMH grants 1 RO1 MH44135 and 1 RO1 MH45534 .


  • Assessment
  • Child psychopathology
  • Structured interviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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