Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David Faurt

Abstract

Sociodemographic adjustment of neuropsychological test scores is widely embraced. However, limited research has examined the frequency with which such adjustments alter score profiles, psychologists' decision-making, or diagnostic accuracy. Of particular interest, in an unknown number of cases test scores that are and are not adjusted may yield conflicting interpretations, both of which cannot be correct. Working with the WAIS-Ill and WMS-Ill, this study examined how often, and the extent to which, sociodemographic adjustment altered test score patterns among normal and abnormal groups. Potential impact on classification and diagnostic accuracy was also examined by determining the frequency with which sociodemographically adjusted profiles best matched their original diagnostic prototypes as opposed to other prototypes, and with which abnormal and normal profiles shifted to more closely resemble the opposing classification. Analysis showed that sociodemographic adjustment frequently produced substantial change in profiles for cases based on the prototype for traumatic brain injury, with these same findings replicated for cases of alcohol abuse, as well as for various normal profiles. Further, matches with original prototypes were often altered such that in a large percentage of cases, profiles from specific pathologic conditions formed better matches with different conditions. Both normal and abnormal profiles additionally switched classes with modest frequency. This research demonstrates that sociodemographic adjustment often has a considerable affect on test score patterns, and hence research on the ultimate impact of such adjustments on clinical judgment and diagnostic accuracy is urgently needed.

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