Transforming Psychological Assessment Tools for the Online Age
Measuring social and psychological constructs effectively is critical to research and practice. Many methods are available – some briefer than others – some more qualitative than quantitative. Utilising standardised assessments, with proven reliability and validity, gives the necessary ‘kite’ mark for their optimal use.
At CATS we have our own bespoke psychological assessment measures which have been developed in a research context to investigate lifespan vulnerability and adversity. Thus measures of childhood neglect/abuse, adult adversity and life events, attachment style and parenting have been standardised by our team and are available as interviews with predetermined scoring procedures for use in both research and practice. In some instances we have briefer questionnaires to do a similar job (in childhood and attachment) but have sought ways of mimicking aspects of interviews with their attention to details of context, meaning and timing. For this we have sought novel ways of making measures digital and web-based.
Benefits of online measuring tools:
- Ease of use & affordability
Who are these tools suitable for
- Schools & Educators
- Academic Researchers
- Mental Health Practitioners
- Social Work Agencies
- Health Agencies
Our projects – the past & the future
We have recently partnered with Prof Mike Smith at Youth in Mind in order to develop online assessment tools which can deliver some of the benefits of interview approaches, taking less time and resource.
Along with Prof Robert Goodman at Kings College London, child and adolescent diagnostic tools such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and clinical interview (Difficulties and Well-Being Assessment – DAWBA) were successfully developed to ascertain national rates of psychiatric disorder. These were further utilised for vulnerable children in care, and are now being rolled out to schools in the context of new policies on mental health workers in schools.
The online system provided a much more detailed and time-based approach to assessment, was easy to roll out in schools and similar locations and could provide an instant summary report as well as collecting anonymised group data. The online systems are robust and secure.
We worked with Mike Smith on our CLEAR – Computerised Life Events Assessment Records project. The project, which was ESRC funded, developed a complex online tool for assessing life event stress. This worked almost as well as the interview approach and much better than simple checklist questionnaires. We are currently collaborating to develop our Q pack, which utilises SDQ, for children in care and to extend our use of the CLEAR life events assessment.
- Bifulco, A., Kagan, L., Spence, R., Nunn, S., Bailey-Rodriquez, D., Hosang, G. M., . . . Fisher, H. L. (2019). Characteristics of severe life events, attachment style and depression – Using an online approach. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1-13. doi:10.1111/bjc.1221.
- Bifulco, A., Spence, R., Nunn, S., Kagan, L., Rodriguez D., Hosang G.M., . . . Fisher, H. L. (2019). The Computerised Life Events and Assessment Record (CLEAR) online measure of life events: reliability, validity and association with depression. JMIR Mental health, 6(1), e10675. doi:10.2196/10675.
- Goodman, R. (1999). The extended version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire as a guide to child psychiatric caseness and consequent burden. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 40(5), 791-799.
- Meltzer, H., Gatward, R., Corbin, T., Goodman, R., & Ford, T. (2002). The mental health of young people looked after by local authorities in England. HMSO.
- Meltzer, H., Gatward, R., Goodman, R., & Ford, T. (2000). Mental health of children and adolescents in Great Britain. Retrieved from Office for National Statistics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12745331.
- Spence, R., Bunn, A., Nunn, S., Hosang, G. M., Kagan, L., Fisher, H. L., . . . Bifulco, A. (2015). Measuring Life Events and Their Association With Clinical Disorder: A Protocol for Development of an Online Approach. JMIR Res Protoc, 4(3), e83. doi:10.2196/resprot.4085