The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) was an effective tool for measuring general and specific psychiatric symptoms across the diagnostic spectrum, based on data from 600 psychiatric inpatients.

"Current DSM and ICD diagnoses do not depict psychopathology accurately, therefore their validity in research and utility in clinical practice is questioned," wrote Andreas B. Hofmann, PhD, of the University of Zürich and colleagues.

The BPRS was developed to assess changes in psychopathology across a range of severe psychiatric disorders, but its potential to assess symptoms in nonpsychotic disorders has not been explored, the researchers said.

In a study published in Psychiatry Research, the investigators analyzed data from 600 adult psychiatric inpatients divided equally into six diagnostic categories: alcohol use disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. The mean age of the patients was 41.5 years and 45.5% were women. The demographic characteristics were similar across most groups, although patients with a personality disorder were significantly more likely than other patients to be younger and female.

Patients were assessed using the BPRS based on their main diagnosis. The mini-ICF-APP, another validated measure for assessing psychiatric disorders, served as a comparator, and both were compared to the Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI).

Overall, the BPRS and mini-ICF-APP showed moderate correlation and good agreement, the researchers said. The Pearson correlation coefficient for the BPRS and mini-ICF-APP scales was 0.53 and the concordance correlation coefficient was 0.52. The mean sum scores for the BPRS, the mini-ICF-APP, and the CGI were 45.4 (standard deviation, 14.4), 19.93 (SD, 8.21), and 5.55 (SD, 0.84), respectively, which indicated "markedly ill" to "severely ill" patients, the researchers said.

The researchers were able to detect three clusters of symptoms corresponding to externalizing, internalizing, and thought disturbance domains using the BPRS, and four clusters using the mini-ICF-APP.

The symptoms using BPRS and the functionality domains using the mini-ICF-APP "showed a close interplay," the researchers noted.

"The symptoms and functional domains we found to be central within the network structure are among the first targets of any psychiatric or psychotherapeutic intervention, namely the building of a common language and understanding as well as the establishment of confidence in relationships and a trustworthy therapeutic alliance," they wrote in their discussion.

The study findings were limited by several factors including the collection of data from routine practice rather than clinical trials, the focus on only the main diagnosis without comorbidities, and the inclusion only of patients requiring hospitalization, the researchers noted.

However, the results were strengthened by the large sample size, and demonstrate the validity of the BPRS as a measurement tool across a range of psychiatric diagnoses, they said.

"Since the BPRS is a widely known and readily available psychometric scale, our results support its use as a transdiagnostic measurement instrument of psychopathology," they concluded.

The study received no outside funding. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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