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Conference paper

Psycho-behavioral rating inventories are used routinely by psychologists and psychiatrists as assessment instruments to assist with the evaluation and ‘diagnosis’ of children and adolescents. They are also used in epidemiological studies to obtain normative/prevalence estimates of children/adolescents with psycho-behavioral ‘problems’. Advantages entailed in their use include ease of administration and the convenience of obtaining estimates of normative behaviors from large numbers of informants. However, serious decisions are frequently made on the basis of ‘measures’ obtained from such instruments, including the labeling of a child as ‘pathologic’, subsequent referral to intervention therapy services, and prescription of medication by a physician. This workshop highlights key methodological issues endemic to the design and use of psycho-behavioral rating inventories, and the analyses of data derived from them. With specific reference to the assessment of inattentive behaviors, the workshop provides evidence indicating that traditional psychometric methodologies employed to construct ‘scales’ (typically from ordinal, item-response formats) and to report ‘norms’ that ignore the sampling, measurement, distributional and structural properties of the derived data, have long since passed their ‘use-bydate’. Also demonstrated is that claims of validity and reliability employing these traditional methodologies can no longer be justified. Using data obtained from the administration of psychobehavioral rating inventories in several large-scale research projects, these issues are illustrated and discussed in terms their substantive implications. The outcomes of more robust methodologies are presented that stress the need to revise the design of child/adolescent psychobehavioral rating inventories, and point to the adoption of more rigorous approaches to measurement and analyses of the related data.

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