Literacy limitations to psychological evaluation tools: The case of MU


  • Cynthia Luo Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Claire Ufongene Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Jennifer Weintraub Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai



Istanbul Protocol, Psychological Exam, Asylum, PHQ-9, Depression Screeing, PTSD Screening, Literacy


In this case, a survivor of torture presents
with symptoms clinically consistent with
both major depressive disorder (MDD)
and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During her evaluation, a validated psychological
questionnaire for PTSD was administered
verbally through a translator and
accurately identified this diagnosis. However,
a self-administered (read and completed by
the client) questionnaire for MDD vastly underestimated
the severity of her symptoms
and failed to diagnose her with depression.
The client had not completed grade school,
so it is likely that her literacy level impacted
the accuracy of this questionnaire. This highlights
one of the many limitations that exist
when administering psychological surveys.
Through understanding these limitations,
forensic evaluators can develop ways to
identify, mitigate, and overcome limitations
of these useful tools.


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How to Cite

Luo, C., Ufongene, C. ., & Weintraub , J. . (2022). Literacy limitations to psychological evaluation tools: The case of MU. Torture Journal, 32(3), 84–88.