5.2.3 – The use of interviews in clinical psychology, to include an example study (Vallentine et al., 2010)

The Use of Interviews

Interviews involve verbal questions between the psychologist and the patient. They can be structuredsemi-structured, and unstructured.

Vallentine et al. (2010)



To investigate the usefulness of psychoeducation (teaching the patient and their family about their illness) in a high security setting (Broadmoor Hospital).


Participants – 42 male patients at Broadmoor Hospital, all with schizophrenia or related disorders who have been identified as being likely to benefit from psychoeducation.

They were all given a semi-structured interview to be able to understand their experiences better and to improve the psychoeducational group, that they are a part of, in the future.

Following the interviews, a content analysis was carried out on their responses. The themes were: ‘what participants valued and why‘, ‘what was helpful about the group’, ‘clinical implications’ and ‘what was difficult/unhelpful’.


Participants valued knowing and understanding their illness. The group allowed them to understand their illness and to understand other people’s experiences with the illness.
Increased confidence in dealing with their illness.


Psychoeducation group was useful for the participants. It helped them understand their illness, which they valued, and understand other people’s experience with the illness and finally increased their confidence with the illness.



(-) 42 male patients at Broadmoor Hospital. These are a specific group with unique qualities (considered dangerous) so it can’t be generalised to all schizophrenia sufferers. Additionally, it can’t be generalised to people suffering from other illnesses because schizophrenia sufferes might be different – they might benefit particularly well from the group. They were also patients which had been identified as being able to benefit from psychoeducation and therefore might not reflect other patients.


(+) Inter-rater reliability –> interviews were recorded and can therefore be checked by other researchers, and can be coded again.

(-) Questions were not standardised for everybody –> lack of reliability because they received different questions.

(-) Content analysis –> Not reliable because not replicable. Each time it is done, different results will probably be found.


(+) Could help to identify how to improve psychoeducation and indicates that psychoeducation is useful.


(+) Use of a semi structured interview allowed detailed knowledge to be gained. Allows them to fully explain their opinions which allows the research to be better able to reflect the participants.