An Internet-Based Symptom Questionnaire That Is Reliable, Valid, and Available to Psychiatrists, Neurologists, and Psychologists

C. Thomas Gualtieri, MD

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In This Article

The Short Form of the Neuropsych Questionnaire (NPQ-SF)

The NPQ only takes 15 minutes, but a shorter questionnaire would be more appropriate for follow-up visits. The fact that many of the items in the NPQ are redundant made it relatively easy to develop a shorter form of the questionnaire. The goal was to cover the most important scales in a questionnaire that contained 45 items and could be administered in less than 5 minutes.

The process of item selection was based on factor loadings, intercorrelation analysis, and symptom frequency in patients with known disorders. Several scales from the NPQ were not used in the short form. This was largely a clinical decision. "Learning problems" is a scale more pertinent to a diagnostic evaluation than to follow up. The clinical problem of agoraphobia is not commonly met within our patient population. Patients with social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar affective disorder seem to be less forthcoming about their core symptoms and more likely to complain of problems with attention, fatigue, anxiety, etc.

The scale scores for the NPQ-SF are highly correlated with the NPQ scale scores (r 0.89-0.99) ( Table 7 ).

The reliability of the NPQ-SF is almost as good as the NPQ ( Table 8 ). Test-retest reliability for the NPQ ranges from 0.54-0.80, average 0.71; for the NPQ-SF, 0.53-0.82. Interrater reliability for the NPQ, patient-observer pairs is 0.39-0.74.

The advantage of a longer questionnaire is that it is more reliable, but in this case, it is not much more reliable. Why not use the short form all the time, then? Clinicians can choose to do as they please, but we prefer the NPQ for evaluations and re-evaluations, and the short form for follow-ups. The NPQ is much more comprehensive, and even though patients with some disorders may not be forthcoming or insightful concerning their symptoms, their close relations are likely to be more accurate in their assessments.

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