Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

A Survey of Psychologists Administering Cognitive and Neuropsychological Assessments with New Zealand Children

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

A Survey of Psychologists Administering Cognitive and Neuropsychological Assessments with New Zealand Children

Article excerpt

Cognitive and neuropsychological assessments with children must be accurate and valid due to the significant influence that results can have on the life of a child and their family/whanau. Patterns of psychometric test use and how appropriate a test is for the children being assessed, are critical considerations to ensure assessments are accurate and valid.

The selection of a psychometric measures involves multiple considerations, such as whether to use a flexible approach by selecting subtests as needed (e.g., Delis Kaplan Executive Function Scale), a fixed test battery approach (e.g., Luria-Nebraska Battery) or an approach based on cognitive abilities (Koziol & Budding, 2011). Other considerations include psychometric properties (validity and reliability/ sensitivity and specificity), availability of parallel forms and time, cost and whether to use computerised or traditional administration (Lezak et al., 2012).

A New Zealand perspective on test use was gained by a survey of members of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (psychologists, consultants and counsellors) (Dunn & Dugdale, 2002) who considered whether test selection should be based on relevance, validity and credibility and on assessor factors such as training, experience and competence, not on cost-effectiveness and employer policies. The most five commonly used measures, (endorsed as being used once a month or more) were the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; 27%), Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III; 22%), Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III; 16%), Ravens Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM; 15%) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI; 14%) (Dunn & Dugdale, 2002). Further, recommendations in the second edition of the Professional Practise of Psychology in Aotearoa New Zealand were that test selection should be based on content, psychometric qualities and based on the level the instrument is aimed at (Eatwell & Wilson, 2007). Despite the psychometric emphasis in cognitive and neuropsychological assessments, there is a lack of literature on the patterns of test use in these specific assessments.

The overall assumption is that the measures selected will be appropriate to the individual being assessed. This is achieved by comparing the individual being assessed to a normative sample (Feigin & Barker-Collo, 2007) usually comprised of local people in the geographical area where the tests were developed (Lezak et al., 2012). Typically these areas are North America (Feigin & Barker-Collo, 2007) described more recently as "white US and Canadian populations" (Thames, Karimian, & Steiner, 2016, p. 140) which differs significantly in geographical and cultural context from where the measures were often used. As there can be substantial differences between normative groups and the population being assessed, it is important to be aware of cultural differences when completing neuropsychological assessments (Horton, 2008; Wong, 2006). Literature in the New Zealand context is consistent with this (Dudley, Faleafa, & Yong, 2016) with accurate New Zealand normative data for neuropsychological assessments deemed necessary to provide increased specificity and sensitivity of diagnosis (Dudley et al., 2016). While some normative data for New Zealand has been developed (see the Psychological and Neuropsychological Norms for New Zealand data base https://cdn.auckland.ac.nz/ assets/psych/about/our-research/documents/psychologicaland-neuropsychological-norms-for-new-zealand.pdf), the only published article providing normative data with New Zealand children appeared 14 years ago (Fernando, Chard, Butcher, & McKay, 2003). While the second edition of the Professional Practice of Psychology in Aotearoa New Zealand (Ogden, 2007), lists measures commonly used for neuropsychological assessment with children the list does not appear to be substantiated by empirical research.

Cross-cultural neuropsychology has identified cultural differences with psychometric tools used in the neuropsychological of cognitive assessment of school-aged children (Sobeh & Spijkers, 2013; Mulenga, Ahonen & Aro, 2001). …

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