Utility of the trail making test in the assessment of malingering in a sample of mild traumatic brain injury litigants

Sid E O'Bryant, Robin C Hilsabeck, Jerid M Fisher, Robert J McCaffrey
Clinical Neuropsychologist 2003, 17 (1): 69-74
The Trail Making Test (TMT) is one of the most commonly administered tests in neuropsychological assessments. It has been shown to be a valid indicator of brain damage due to traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as a number of other neuropathological conditions. TMT error and ratio scores have been suggested as possible markers of malingering. The present study examined the utility of various TMT scores as malingering measures in 94 TBI litigants. Litigants were divided into those suspected of (n = 27) and those not suspected of malingering (n = 67) based on scores obtained on the Test of Memory Malingering and/or the Rey 15-Item Test. TMT errors did not discriminate between suspected and nonsuspected malingerers; however, the overall level of performance on the TMT was suppressed in suspected malingerers. The TMT ratio score was significantly lower in litigants suspected of malingering, although the clinical utility of this ratio is minimal. Results of the present study suggest using caution when interpreting TMT scores as markers of malingering in TBI litigants.

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