Publication Date

2013

Abstract

Background: The Internet and telephone are valuable resources for mental health practitioners when access to face-to-face assessment or therapy is difficult. However, despite the high stakes (such as access to medication or financial compensation) often involved in psychological testing, little is known about how test administration mode influences test scores when patients are malingering. The aim of this research was to examine for the first time the equivalence of a malingered measure of depression when administered over the Internet, over the telephone, and with pen and paper. Subjects and Methods: A mixed experimental design was used with participants (n=91) randomly allocated to Internet, telephone, or pen-and-paper groups. Participants completed the Edinburgh Depression Scale, first under standard instructions and then under instructions to fake as if experiencing severe depression. A manipulation check was included to ensure participants had understood and followed instructions to fake. Results: As predicted, participants were able to significantly increase their depression scores when asked to fake depression. Participants reported significantly lower faked depression scores over the telephone than in pen-and-paper format. Faked depression scores in the online group did not differ significantly from those in the telephone and pen-and-paper groups. However, participants in all groups met criteria indicative of a provisional diagnosis of depression. Conclusions: Overall, the results indicate that there may be no meaningful difference between malingering across administration modes. If an individual is malingering depression, administration mode has minimal influence. These findings provide preliminary support for the use of online/telephone technologies in the assessment of depression.

Document Type

Journal Article

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