Diagnostic interview for genetic studies: Rationale, unique features, and training

J. I. Nurnberger, M. C. Blehar, C. A. Kaufmann, C. York-Cooler, S. G. Simpson, J. Harkavy-Friedman, J. B. Severe, D. Malaspina, T. Reich, M. Miller, E. S. Bowman, J. R. DePaulo, C. R. Cloninger, G. Robinson, S. Moldin, E. S. Gershon, M. E. Maxwell, J. J. Guroff, D. Kirch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1710 Scopus citations


This article reports on the development and reliability of the Diagnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS), a clinical interview especially constructed for the assessment of major mood and psychotic disorders and their spectrum conditions. The DIGS, which was developed and piloted as a collaborative effort of investigators from sites in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Genetics Initiative, has the following additional features: (1) polydiagnostic capacity; (2) a detailed assessment of the course of the illness, chronology of psychotic and mood syndromes, and comorbidity; (3) additional phenomenologic assessments of symptoms; and (4) algorithmic scoring capability. The DIGS is designed to be employed by interviewers who exercise significant clinical judgment and who summarize information in narrative form as well as in ratings. A two-phase test-retest (within-site, between-site) reliability study was carried out for DSM-III-R criteria-based major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder. Reliabilities using algorithms were excellent (0.73 to 0.95), except for schizoaffective disorder, for which disagreement on estimates of duration of mood syndromes relative to psychosis reduced reliability. A final best-estimate process using medical records and information from relatives as well as algorithmic diagnoses is expected to be more reliable in making these distinctions. The DIGS should be useful as part of archival data gathering for genetic studies of major affective disorders, schizophrenia, and related conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-859+863-864
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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