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New release! An interactive overview course on the Neuropsychological Assessment Battery® (NAB®) as well as a series of 6 video courses, one devoted to administration and scoring of each NAB Module, have been added to the PAR Training Portal. Whether you want a deeper understanding of a specific NAB test or are looking for general background information, these additions to the Training Portal are ideal for both casual and expert-level users of the instrument, providing you greater insight into one of our most popular products. 

The PAR Training Portal is a free, on-demand resource available 24/7. To view the NAB courses or to view a list of the more than 65 training resources available, simply log in with your parinc.com username and password and select “Neuropsychology” under the “Browse for Training” menu at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.  

Haven’t visited in a while? There’s more! 

Log in today to see what’s new! Use your parinc.com username and password. 

 

 

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Why?

Many of us are familiar with the ethics of psychological testing, including carefully choosing tests based on how they were standardized. Have you ever found yourself curious, flipping through a manual, wondering if the population you work with was adequately represented in the creation of a test? One way you can ensure this, contribute to the field, and be compensated for your time is by participating in data collection with PAR! Data collectors are essential to research and development of psychological tests and are often the first to know what products and assessments will be hitting the market.

Who can collect data?

Most of our data collectors are clinical psychologists, school psychologists, psychometrists, speech and language pathologists, and other clinicians. PAR follows the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Guidelines for Psychological Assessment and Evaluation, a system of qualification levels that guides decision-making about who can purchase, administer, and interpret tests (APA, 2020). Anyone administering assessments must be well trained in standardized administration protocols, ethics, and demonstrate competency in practice. For data collection, requirements differ by test. Most projects require a PAR qualification level of B or C.

Qualification Level: B

  • A degree from an accredited 4-year college or university in psychology, counseling, speech-language pathology, or a closely related field plus satisfactory completion of coursework in test interpretation, psychometrics and measurement theory, educational statistics, or a closely related area; or license or certification from an agency that requires appropriate training and experience in the ethical and competent use of psychological tests.

Qualification Level: C

  • All qualifications for level B plus an advanced professional degree that provides appropriate training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests, or license or certification from an agency that requires appropriate training and experience in the ethical and competent use of psychological tests.

What will I be asked to do?

Data collectors are responsible for finding participants and are compensated on a per-case basis that varies by project. PAR does not pay participants directly, although we can provide gift cards for your participants at your request, deducted from the total amount per case. There is no minimum number of reservations required. We are thankful for any data you can provide for us!

Data collectors submit required demographic information for the participants they intend to test. It is imperative for data collectors to provide accurate demographic information. PAR uses Census-based norming, and we must ensure all demographic groups are appropriately represented. The data collection team at PAR will make a reservation for each participant based on demographics provided. Once a reservation has been made, materials will be provided to data collectors to begin testing.

  • Each data collection project is slightly different, ranging from completing rating scales online to administering performance-based tests in person. The general process involves obtaining informed consent from the participant, administering the test, and submitting data and materials to PAR.
  • We are grateful for our data collectors and try to demonstrate this via prompt payment for your efforts.

What are the types of data collection?

Pilot

  • Preliminary data collection on proposed measure with a small sample to determine any concerns that need to be addressed.

Standardization

  • Gathering data using the proposed measure with entire sample to create norms; determining what is typical for the population studied.
  • PAR uses Census-based norming to ensure the sample is proportionally representative of the demographics of the United States. We ask for age/grade, sex, race/ethnic group, and participant’s or parent’s educational attainment. We monitor the data closely to ensure each region is represented.
  • The standardization stage of a project provides additional data collection opportunities to gather reliability data through interrater and test–retest cases, as well as validity data using concurrent measures.

Clinical Groups

  • Specific clinical groups may be needed for certain projects. These clinical cases may require additional documentation from the data collector and typically are compensated at a higher rate. Please let PAR know the clinical groups you have access to by completing those questions on the Examiner Information Form.

When do I sign up?

Now! Data collection projects are currently in process.

Where do I sign up?

Simply complete the Examiner Information Form and Nondisclosure Agreement and send the forms to Kathryn Stubleski at  kstubleski@parinc.com.

We look forward to working with you!

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We’re excited to announce the publication of another instrument to add to your digital tool kit! The Identi-Fi Remote, a digital adaptation of the paper-and-pencil version, is an appealing and accurate test of visual organization designed specifically for testing your clients when you’re apart.

Related article: Now available: Identi-Fi

The Identi-Fi Remote has several distinct advantages:

  • Because administration relies on videoconferencing, you and your clients can connect regardless of physical location.
  • Equivalency between paper-and-pencil and digital formats has been studied and supported. Read our white paper to learn more.
  • Only 10 minutes is needed to obtain the Visual Organization Index, which allows you to quickly and accurately evaluate the examinee’s visual organizational and visual processing skills.
  • Features the same full-color, up-to-date stimuli illustrations as the paper-and-pencil version, making the test salient to current populations and adaptable to mildly visually impaired individuals.
  • Motor demand is low, requiring only a one-word utterance or a simple pointing response.
  • Useful in a variety of contexts:
    • when assessing individuals with traumatic brain injury and other forms of central nervous system compromise
    • when visual perceptual or processing skill deficits are suspected in the evaluation of reading disorders
    • when monitoring recovery following a brain injury or other CNS compromise
    • when right hemisphere dysfunction or deficiencies are hypothesized
    • when visual attention is an issue
  • A technical paper provides detailed administration instructions, and a white paper details the paper-and-pencil to digital equivalency study.

Learn more!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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The American Psychological Association’s annual convention will be a virtual event, taking place August 12 through 14. APA 2021 features more than 50 prominent voices from across disciplines speaking on the power of psychology and will offer continuing education sessions and workshops. 

PAR is proud to once again be a sponsor of the APA annual convention, as well as an exhibitor. We invite you to stop by our virtual booth.  

  • Receive a special APA discount code good for 15% off any PAR product purchase when you visit us during booth hours! (Booth hours are 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., 2 to 3 p.m., and 5 to 6 p.m. each day of the convention.) 

  • Also during booth hours, PAR staff will be present and will be happy to answer your questions about our products.  

  • Stop by the virtual booth any time during the conference to get more information about our products.  

We look forward to meeting you at APA 2021!  There is still time, register today