The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) is the de facto international gold standard for the assessment of depression. There are some criticisms, however, especially with regard to its inter-rater reliability, due to the lack of standardized questions or explicit scoring procedures. The GRID-HAMD was developed to provide standardized explicit scoring conventions and a structured interview guide for administration and scoring of the HAMD. We developed the Japanese version of the GRID-HAMD and examined its inter-rater reliability among experienced and inexperienced clinicians (n = 70), how rater characteristics may affect it, and how training can improve it in the course of a model training program using videotaped interviews. The results showed that the inter-rater reliability of the GRID-HAMD total score was excellent to almost perfect and those of most individual items were also satisfactory to excellent, both with experienced and inexperienced raters, and both before and after the training. With its standardized definitions, questions and detailed scoring conventions, the GRID-HAMD appears to be the best achievable set of interview guides for the HAMD and can provide a solid tool for highly reliable assessment of depression severity.
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