Description: This comprehensive text serves as a "compendium of the available rating scales, tests, and measures that may be useful in caring for patients with mental illnesses." It is accompanied by a CD-ROM that includes complete copies of 108 measures as wall as the handbook's unabridged text.
Purpose: The purpose is "to inform clinicians about the selection, use, and interpretation of formal assessments ... and to assist them in evaluating the potential utility of such measurement tools in clinical practice." The focus is clinical and is intended to provide readers "with a basic introduction to the potential roles, opportunities, and risks and benefits in the uses of assessment, evaluation, and outcome measures in the routine clinical care of patients with mental disorders." Two other stated purposes are to assist clinicians and policy makers in understanding and interpreting the validity of the literature on evaluating treatment efficacy and service system delivery interventions and to identify research areas in which knowledge is lacking. The book is not intended to be encyclopedic, and the reader is cautioned that many of the measures included require training "to achieve the stated results." Nor do the authors advocate that formal measures should supplant clinical judgment and therapeutic decision making. These worthy objectives have been fulfilled.
Audience: This handbook was compiled by committee. A well-credentialed task force contributed their knowledge and expertise to produce this book. The primary audience is clinicians who work in mental health or primary care settings and the secondary audience is policy makers and planners who assess the performance of healthcare providers and delivery systems.
Features: The book is divided into three sections: Introduction, General Measures, Measures Related to DSM-IV Diagnostic Categories. Most of the book is devoted to reviewing the instruments. There also are five appendixes and a general index. The measures contained on the CD-ROM, which includes a "Helpful Hints" section to guide the user, are limited to those not under copyright protection. As noted in the hints, the resolution of measures images is limited by the quality of the originals scanned and the CD storage capacity; perhaps the next edition will use better originals. Also, the hyperlinks do not get you exactly to specific related locations or return you to where you started.
Assessment: I rate it an "A" for concept and a "B" for delivery. The handbook is the most comprehensive of its genre available In psychiatry today, but the CD-ROM's limitations are not a small matter in today's market. Nevertheless, the handbook will be a helpful companion for clinicians and for informed consumers of data, who must be familiar with and understand the utility and the limitations of the measures.