Development of a novel diagnostic system for a telepsychiatric application: a pilot validation study | BMC Research Notes | Full Text

A net-based, decision support system for diagnostic assessment and management of psychiatric disorders, developed as part of a telepsychiatry service, which aims to deliver mental health care to underserved population of remote areas in India is described. This paper presents the development and preliminary results of diagnostic validation of the application, intended for use among adult patients. The bilingual (English and Hindi) diagnostic tool consists of a core diagnostic section comprising a screening sub-module and criteria-based diagnostic sub-modules for 18 adult psychiatric disorders, and additional sections covering background information. The diagnostic tool of the application was examined among 100 consecutive consenting adult outpatients, by comparing it with detailed semi-structured clinical assessments led by a consultant psychiatrist, on accuracy of diagnoses generated, and examining the feasibility of its use. The screening sub-module had high sensitivity and high specificity, low positive predictive values, but high negative predictive values for most disorders. For the diagnostic sub-modules, there was moderate (kappa = 0.4-0.6), to substantial agreement (kappa > 0.6) between diagnoses generated by the tool and consultants’ diagnoses, for all the disorders except dysthymia. Sensitivity was high barring a few disorders. Specificity was high for all the disorders, positive predictive values were acceptable to high for most disorders, and negative predictive values were consistently high. Completion rate was 100%; average time taken was five minutes for screening alone, and 30 minutes for complete assessment with screening and criteria-based evaluation. A majority of the patients, their relatives, and interviewers were satisfied with the interview. The preliminary results indicated that despite some limitations, the new diagnostic system was reasonably comprehensive, time-efficient and feasible, with an acceptable level of diagnostic accuracy. Hence, it appeared to be suitable for use as a telepsychiatric application.
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