Comparison of MMPI clinical scale and critical item changes of adult outpatients and parents of child psychiatry outpatients during the 1970s

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HOLMES, G. R., SABALIS, F. R., CHESTNUT, E., SHEPPARD, B. & SMITH, M. E. (1986) Comparison of MMPI clinical scale and critical item changes of adult outpatients and parents of child psychiatry outpatients during the 1970s, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42(6) 913-916.

BACKGROUND: The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was administered to parents of children seen for psychiatric services at the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute during the 1970s. The present investigation is a replication of the Holmes et al. (1984) study but in an adult outpatient population during the 1970s as recommended.  Results will answer whether the MMPI critical item and clinical scale changes observed in the parent population during the 1970s were occurring in a general adult outpatient population.

METHOD: Subjects: 749 Adult Outpatient MMPI profiles from between 1970 and 1979 were obtained from the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute. All MMPI profiles included the standard validity scales and clinical scales, as well as the 51 MMPI critical item list divided into nine subcategories as in the Holmes et al. (1984) study. Procedure: Any endorsement in the keyed direction for a critical item was recorded as a 1.  Also included were year, marital status, age, sex and the total number of critical items endorsed.

RESULTS/DISCUSSIONS: The data from the present investigation rejects the notion that changes on the MMPI critical item endorsement rate and clinical scales seen in a parent population might be similar in an adult female and male outpatient psychiatric population. In the somatic subcategory of the critical items a significant increase for mothers and a significant decrease for female outpatients were seen between the two sets of data, which raises an important clinical issue: Mothers of children who are receiving outpatient psychiatric care may need more intensive psychiatric interventions that have been offered in the past.

The decrease on the masculine / feminine data by the females and the increase on the same scale by the males during the 1970-1979 periods are difficult to speculate on in regard to the females.  The male increase on the MF scale and the male increase on the critical items in the sexual category may indicate that several factors are taking place. Male outpatients during the 1975-1979 period might have been coming to psychotherapy and dealing actively with sexual identity issues and sexual problems. In addition, the tendency for more males from higher educational institutions to come for outpatient psychotherapy could be dealt with by examining the relationship of the educational background and the MF scale changes in the male population over the period of the 1970s in this population.

It is recommended that future retrospective and prospective studies that replicate the present investigation could yield valuable information about the reliability of the findings and the conclusions drawn in the present investigations. As well, Small studies using control variables such as age, marital status and family mental illness history have the potential to give useful information about the interactions of demographic data and psychopathology as measured by the MMPI.

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