An Interpretive Report for the Dementia Rating Scale–2™ (DRS-2™) is now available on PARiConnect. The DRS-2 measures mental status in adults with cognitive impairment and assesses an individual’s overall level of cognitive functioning.
The DRS-2 Interpretive Report provides:
Save money and valuable clinical time by letting PARiConnect handle scoring and interpretation of your DRS-2 administrations without the investment of purchasing the entire software program.
Don’t have a PARiConnect account? It’s easy to sign up—plus you get three free administrations and three free reports! Learn more.
No one offers more neuropsychological assessment tools than PAR. We offer more than 100 products for neuropsychologists to assess across the life span—all in one place. Whether you are looking for a comprehensive battery or a specialized test, there’s no need to look further. If you are assessing executive function or memory, ADHD or dementia, aphasia or abstract reasoning—we have the right tool for your needs. We’ve even broken out our list to make it easier to sort by age group or online assessment:
Assess children and adolescents. Whether for attention, executive functioning, or memory, ADHD or learning disabilities, when it comes to neuropsychological testing, let PAR be your trusted resource.
Assess adults. Our comprehensive list of products ranges from cognitive impairment to memory functioning and more, meaning we have the assessments you need to help those you serve. Let us provide the tools to help you provide your clients with the answers they need.
Assess older adults. We carry more neuropsychological tests than anyone else—so when you are assessing for concerns from aphasia to dementia and beyond, we have a solution that will help those you serve.
Assess via PARiConnect. We are constantly expanding our online and remote offerings to give you even more options. Learn more about PARiConnect and how it can help you adapt to flexible administration and scoring options.
Explore our library to build the neuropsychological test battery that suits your specific testing needs.
This week, Sierra Iwanicki, PhD, clinical psychologist and project director at PAR, explains the background to a question PAR often receives—when and why does a test need to be updated or revised?
PAR frequently receives questions about the need to update or revise the instruments we publish. We often look for guidance from published literature and professional organizations such as the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) to help guide our decisions. Although there are no absolute rules regarding when to update or revise, these professional guidelines and ethical codes provide examples of situations that would prompt the need for test revision. Here is some of the guidance we follow when determining when and if a revision is necessary:
The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing states that “revisions or amendments are necessary when new research data, significant changes in the domain, or new conditions of test use and interpretation suggest that the test is no longer optimal or fully appropriate for some of its intended uses” (pp. 83). The Standards also notes that the decision to revise or update psychological tests may be considered when there is a change in the conceptualization of the construct.
Guideline 2.4 of the International Test Commission’s Guidelines for Practitioner Use of Test Revisions, Obsolete Tests, and Test Disposal requires test publishers to justify the need for a revised test, stating that:
Test revisions may be driven by knowledge that the assessed behaviors are subject to substantial change over time, by significant demographic changes, from research that leads to improvements in theories and concepts that should impact test use, from changes in diagnostic criteria, or in response to test consumers demands for improved versions. (p. 9)
Standard 9.08, Obsolete Tests and Outdated Test Results, of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, states that “psychologists do not base such decisions or recommendations on tests and measures that are obsolete and not useful for the current purpose.” However, no guidance is provided on how to determine when a test is obsolete.
When determining if revision is necessary, it is important to consider the type of test. For example, the Flynn Effect shows that IQ scores don’t remain consistent over time, meaning intellectual assessment tools need to be updated more frequently than personality assessments, where the content remains more constant over time. Butcher notes that “not everything in life becomes functionally ineffective at the same rate” (p. 263), and tests do not become obsolete simply because of the passage of time.
Ultimately, test publishers are entrusted to monitor changes over time that may prompt the need to revise an assessment.
Are you using a PAR product for research? Learn more about how you can get involved with PAR’s data program.
This week, Sierra Iwanicki, PhD, project director, spoke to Mark A. Blais, PsyD, and Samuel Justin Sinclair, PhD, the coauthors of the SPECTRA: Indices of Psychopathology to gain more insight into the development and uses of this instrument.
What motivated you to create the SPECTRA?
Mark A. Blais, PsyD: Several factors combined to motivate the SPECTRA’s development. Like most psychologists, we were concerned about the shortcomings of the DSM’s categorical diagnostic system (e.g., excessive comorbidity, arbitrary thresholds, and within-disorder heterogeneity) and the problems this system created for psychological assessment. Therefore, we were excited by the emergence of multivariate research exploring the structure of adult psychopathology. And as this research accumulated, we became convinced that an instrument based on a hierarchical–dimensional model of psychopathology would have great utility for clinical assessment. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, none of the existing psychological inventories were fully congruent with the hierarchical model. Confident that the hierarchical model of psychopathology had significant clinical utility, we decided to develop the SPECTRA. With funding from the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, we undertook a rigorous development process that resulted to the SPECTRA’s publication in the spring of 2018.
How does the SPECTRA differ from other broadband psychological inventories?
Blais: The SPECTRA differs from other broadband inventories conceptually and interpretatively. Based on contemporary hierarchical models, the SPECTRA was designed to assess psychopathology at three clinically meaningful levels or bandwidths. The 12 clinical scales provide a narrow-band assessment of constructs similar to DSM disorders. The three higher-order scales reorganize symptoms into the broader dimensions of Internalizing, Externalizing, and Reality-Impairing psychopathology. At the broadest level, the SPECTRA’s Global Psychopathology Index (GPI) yields a single overarching measure of psychiatric burden and vulnerability. Interpretively, the SPECTRA’s three levels of assessment provide unique information about a patient’s clinical presentation, course of illness, and prognosis. We suggest employing an interpretive strategy that moves from the global, GPI, through to the three broad dimensions, and down to the specific clinical scales. This approach allows the examiner to write a concise description of severity and prognosis (GPI), complexity and treatment focus (dimensional scales), and current symptom expression (clinical scales).
What kinds of settings/contexts might the SPECTRA have utility for mental health providers?
Samuel Justin Sinclair, PhD: As our understanding of psychopathology and diagnosis have advanced with the emergence of the hierarchical–dimensional model, we believe an instrument like the SPECTRA has broad clinical utility. Clinically speaking, the SPECTRA organizes psychopathology in a unique way that informs a more differentiated understanding of etiology, complexity, and burden. As such, we see utility in comprehensive outpatient clinical assessments (like the ones we conduct in our own practice), where the referral questions and clinical presentations are usually complex. In this context, the SPECTRA offers important information about current symptom expression (e.g., what specifically the patient is experiencing), as well as valuable information about complexity (e.g., elevations in multiple spectra domains) and general burden (i.e., the p factor). Such information is valuable for treatment planning, both in terms of specific targets to focus on (e.g., PTSD symptoms) and also breadth and intensity of services that may be indicated. We also believe the SPECTRA has utility for inpatient or acute treatment contexts, where a more focal psychological assessment may be useful. Given the SPECTRA’s lower patient burden (i.e., it is roughly 75% shorter than most other broadband instruments), it may be ideal in these specific types of acute care settings. In fact, we recently published a study assessing the validity and utility of the SPECTRA in an inpatient setting, and the results suggested it performed quite well. Similarly, we have also recently explored the validity of the SPECTRA in a sample of incarcerated individuals with serious mental illness and found good evidence for validity when compared with the specific type and number of SCID-5 diagnoses. Finally, given the SPECTRA’s ability to assess psychopathology and functioning at different levels, we believe the instrument has considerable utility in treatment/outcomes monitoring. As a psychometrically sound, low-burden assessment conceptually aligned with contemporary models of psychopathology and research, we believe there are a wide array of different application possibilities with an instrument like the SPECTRA.
What is the p factor and how is it relevant to clinical assessment?
Blais: The p factor represents one of the most exciting and valuable insights revealed by contemporary psychopathology research. Similar to Spearman’s general factor of cognitive ability (e.g., g factor), the p factor is an overarching general factor of psychopathology. As the g factor reflects overall cognitive ability, the p factor seems to represent, from low to high, overall psychiatric burden. Therefore, it has the potential to be a reliable single index of a patient’s overall psychiatric burden and impairment. The p factor emerges statistically from the positive correlations observed among measures of psychopathology. The statistical p factor is robust and widely replicated. Our conceptual understanding of the p factor is still evolving, but research shows that subjects high on p factor suffer more functional impairment, have greater comorbidity, evidence neurocognitive dysfunction, and are more likely to experience a suboptimal or atypical response to treatment. The SPECTRA, with GPI, is the only broadband inventory specifically designed to generate a validated p-factor measure.
How does the SPECTRA assess psychopathology in a way that is useful for clinicians?
Sinclair: As noted above, the SPECTRA provides unique clinical information at the different levels of the psychopathology hierarchy. At the lowest level, clinicians are able to see where and to what degree patients are expressing primary psychopathology—at the level of the DSM-5 syndromes. However, at the spectra level, clinicians are better able to see how a person’s psychopathology may cluster—and whether this tends to reflect more within-domain (or spectra) symptomatology, or across domains. This information may inform clinical decision making in different ways. For example, to the extent that a person is highly distressed, anxious, and depressed—with multiple elevations across these scales, but all within the Internalizing domain—specific classes of pharmacologic and/or types of psychotherapeutic interventions may be indicated. However, in cases where psychopathology is expressed across multiple spectra (with higher p-factor scores), it may signal greater levels of diagnostic complexity, burden, and impairment in functioning—which would suggest that treatment may need to be multimodal, sequenced, and of longer duration and/or intensity. In contrast to other broadband instruments that assess clinical constructs (e.g., depression, mania) as specific or independent entities, the SPECTRA’s hierarchical–dimensional assessment of psychopathology makes it unique—offering valuable information across different levels of psychopathology.
What are some important things clinicians should know about the SPECTRA?
Sinclair: We believe the conceptual model described earlier is probably what makes the tool most unique and best aligned with contemporary models of psychopathology. However, the instrument is also quite brief—and at just 96 items, it may be something to consider when testing conditions or context do not allow for longer instruments. Likewise, in addition to the core clinical scales and hierarchical dimensions that are assessed, the SPECTRA also contains several supplemental scales assessing suicidal ideation, cognitive concerns, and adaptive psychosocial functioning. The cognitive concerns scale was designed to be disorder agnostic and is meant to assess the types of general cognitive problems (e.g., organization/attention, memory, language) people may experience respective of etiology. This scale helps assess level of functioning, as perceived cognitive difficulties negatively impact motivation, persistence, and confidence. It also functions as a brief screener that can inform decisions about pursuing more formal neuropsychological assessment. In addition, the SPECTRA’s adaptive psychosocial functioning scale was also developed to assess environmental resources (financial and housing), coping strengths, and social support—all of which may be useful for informing treatment recommendations and estimating prognosis. The psychosocial functioning scale was developed from a more positive psychology perspective. We wanted the SPECTRA to focus not only on deficits, but also on strengths and resources. The SPECTRA’s supplemental scales provide clinically valuable information above and beyond psychopathology—information that allows us better insight into a person’s functioning and where and how we might be able to help as psychologists.
Learn more about the SPECTRA.
Proper assessment—conducted with psychometrically strong, easy-to-use instruments designed to help you make critical decisions faster—enables you to develop effective treatment plans for your patients. It can also help mitigate the mental health impact of the pandemic, which has exacerbated symptoms in many areas, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
PAR has developed a new resource that can help you filter through your assessment options and quickly choose the right products for your needs—tools that will help you make better, quicker decisions about what’s best for your patients’ mental health and wellbeing.
Related article: Check out PAR’s Spanish assessment solutions page
Quickly compare the benefits of recommended products in the areas of depression, anxiety, trauma, suicide, parenting, resilience, and executive function. You’ll see that many of our products are available for digital and/or remote use—so you can easily and safely test your clients when you’re not together in person. Plus, we’ve included listings for supplemental books that can help round out your knowledge in a particular construct area.
Visit our NEW mental health resources page to discover more.
The Social Emotional Assets and Resilience Scales (SEARS) assesses positive social–emotional attributes in children and adolescents. New research published in the June issue of Assessment provides further data to support its clinical use.
The authors studied the factor structure, measurement invariance, internal consistency, and validity of the SEAR-Adolescent (SEARS-A) Report in individuals ages 8 to 20 years. The study focused on 225 childhood cancer survivors and 122 students without a history of significant health problems in the control group. They were all administered the SEARS-A, finding it to have an adequate factor structure and model fit and demonstrated invariance across domains of age, health status, gender, race, and socioeconomic status.
Additionally, the researchers found the SEARS-A to have excellent internal reliability, criterion validity, and current validity when compared with another similar instrument.
The researchers concluded that the SEARS-A has the potential to be a sound tool to assess and predict social–emotional outcomes among at-risk youth between the ages of 8 and 20 years.
Learn more about this research or learn more about the SEARS.
Editor's note: This article refers to a promotion that has expired.
Your students and clients deserve a worry-free testing experience—one that doesn’t cause additional concern about cleanliness. But when you’re administering tests that require the use of stimuli, the last thing you want to do is spend an extra hour of your day wiping down hundreds of stimulus pages.
Our new In-Person e-Stimulus Books are the answer. Administered via tablet, they…
In addition, e-Manuals can help you build a digital library of testing resources, accessible from anywhere. e-Manuals are downloadable digital versions of PAR professional manuals, and we offer more than 100 of them for your convenience. (We’re adding more all the time!) Downloading e-Manuals is super easy, but we’ve created a handy video that provides all the information you need to install and use them.
Related article: Advice on teleassessment
Plus, for a limited time, we’re allowing you to go digital for free! Access the the In-Person e-Stimulus Book version of any print stimulus book you own and the e-Manual version of any print manual you own—at no charge! The print version must have been purchased prior to publication of the digital version. Just contact Customer Support at 1.800.331.8378 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request. This offer expires on May 28, so don’t delay!
Visit our e-stimulus page for the latest updates and information on In-Person e-Stimulus Books. For more information on e-Manuals, check out our list of available e-Manuals.
The Hopkins Verbal Learning Test–Revised™ (HVLT-R™) and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test–Revised™ (BVMT-R™) are now available for scoring on PARiConnect. The HVLT-R assesses verbal learning and memory, while the BVMT-R measures visuospatial memory. Both tests are neuropsychological assessments that can be used together as part of a battery.
HVLT-R and BVMT-R Score Reports generated by PARiConnect provide:
A score summary table that provides raw scores, T scores, and percentiles
A raw score profile
A T-score profile
Save valuable clinical time by letting PARiConnect handle the scoring. Now you can easily score these assessments online and without the expense of software or licenses. Learn more about the HVLT-R and the BVMT-R now!
Don’t have a PARiConnect account? It’s easy to sign up! Learn more
Interested in research conducted using the HVLT-R and BVMT-R? Click here and here to see our lists of research articles.
Related article: New on PARiConnect: Digital Library
Are you doing research with a PAR product and think it could help others? We are looking to gather additional data on our existing tests with the goal of further validating our instruments, identifying and developing product enhancements, or adding features that allow our Customers to better meet the needs of those they serve.
We are inviting clinicians, researchers, and other professionals to partner with us to advance the scope of solutions we can provide, especially focusing on better helping underserved populations.
Could your data help others? We would love to talk to you about it!
PARiConnect is the industry’s best online assessment platform. And now it has gotten even better with the introduction of the Digital Library.
What is the Digital Library?
It’s an online location within PARiConnect that stores all e-Manuals purchased from PAR in one convenient place.
How do you access the Digital Library?
Simply log into your PARiConnect account to access all your materials. Once you are logged in, you can find the Digital Library under the Quick Links section.
What are the benefits of the Digital Library?
Additional flexibility! Now you can easily access your materials from most internet-connected devices.
Have digital manuals, but don’t have a PARiConnect account?
Register for free and get 3 free assessments and reports plus easy access to your digital e-Manuals.