Poor Performance Validity Predicts Clinical Characteristics and Cognitive Test Performance of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans in a Research Setting

The Clinical Neuropsychologist (Impact Factor: 1.72). 04/2014; 28(5):1-24. DOI: 10.1080/13854046.2014.904928
Source: PubMed


This study examined the performance of 198 Veteran research participants deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and/or Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) on four measures of performance validity: the Medical Symptom Validity Test (MSVT), California Verbal Learning Test: Forced Choice Recognition (FCR), Reliable Digit Span (RDS), and TOVA Symptom Exaggeration Index (SEI). Failure on these performance validity tests (PVTs) ranged from 4% to 9%. The overall base rate of poor performance validity, as measured by failure of the MSVT in conjunction with an embedded PVT (FCR, RDS, SEI), was 5.6%. Regression analyses revealed that poor performance validity predicted cognitive test performance and self-reported psychological symptom severity. Furthermore, a greater prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), co-morbid TBI/PTSD, and other Axis I diagnoses, was observed among participants with poor effort. Although poor performance validity is relatively uncommon in a research setting, these findings demonstrate that clinicians should be cautious when interpreting psychological symptoms and neuropsychological test performance of Veteran participants who fail effort measures.

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    ABSTRACT: Embedded validity measures support comprehensive assessment of performance validity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of individual embedded measures and to reduce them to the most efficient combination. The sample included 212 postdeployment veterans (average age = 35 years, average education = 14 years). Thirty embedded measures were initially identified as predictors of Green’s Word Memory Test (WMT) and were derived from the California Verbal Learning Test-Second Edition (CVLT-II), Conners’ Continuous Performance Test-Second Edition (CPT-II), Trail Making Test, Stroop, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test-64, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third Edition Letter-Number Sequencing, Rey Complex Figure Test (RCFT), Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised, and the Finger Tapping Test. Eight nonoverlapping measures with the highest area-under-the-curve (AUC) values were retained for entry into a logistic regression analysis. Embedded measure accuracy was also compared to cutoffs found in the existing literature. Twenty-one percent of the sample failed the WMT. Previously developed cutoffs for individual measures showed poor sensitivity (SN) in the current sample except for the CPT-II (Total Errors, SN = .41). The CVLT-II (Trials 1–5 Total) showed the best overall accuracy (AUC = .80). After redundant measures were statistically eliminated, the model included the RCFT (Recognition True Positives), CPT-II (Total Errors), and CVLT-II (Trials 1–5 Total) and increased overall accuracy compared with the CVLT-II alone (AUC = .87). The combination of just 3 measures from the CPT-II, CVLT-II, and RCFT was the most accurate/efficient in predicting WMT performance.
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