IAPT And The Abuse of Psychometric Tests

A person who consents to a psychometric test has a right to a full explanation of its purposes. I have not met an IAPT client who has been given such an explanation. IAPT employees see it as a requirement of the organisation for ‘audit’, but this is not an explanation. Informed consent means that it has to be explained what would be the consequences of not taking the test, this never happens. It is important that tests are only given that are relevant to the purposes of evaluation (not to do so probably breaches data protection legislation). But in administering say the PHQ-9 the IAPT worker does not know whether this is pertinent to whatever the client is suffering from e.g OCD or PTSD (as there is no reliable standardised diagnostic interview). Further the client isn’t informed of the purpose to which the test result will be put, e.g it will be used by IAPT in such a way that any positive change on it greater than 6 will be publicised as indicating the difference the Organisation makes. It is not explained that the PHQ-9 was developed with funding from Pfizer, the drug company who would clearly benefit from the overidentification of depression. Further the PHQ-9 was extracted from the Prime-MD interview, taken out of this context its’ meaning is questionable.

Psychologists wield power in IAPT, they know or at least should know about the appropriate use of psychometric tests e.g if they are administered weekly the person can remember their last response thus biasing scoring. If on their watch they are allowing others to misuse them then this may be a matter for the HCPC and for some also the University body that employs them. Psychologists and Universities can not be complicit in a Government Quango marketing itself.

Dr Mike Scott

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