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Clinical utility of the Conners' Continuous Performance Test-II to detect poor effort in U.S. military personnel following traumatic brain injury

Rael T Lange, Grant L Iverson, Tracey A Brickell, Tara Staver, Sonal Pancholi, Aditya Bhagwat, Louis M French
Psychological Assessment 2013, 25 (2): 339-52
23244641
The purpose of this study is to examine the clinical utility of the Conners' Continuous Performance Test (CPT-II) as an embedded marker of poor effort in military personnel undergoing neuropsychological evaluations following traumatic brain injury. Participants were 158 U.S. military service members divided into 3 groups on the basis of brain injury severity and performance (pass/fail) on 2 symptom validity tests: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)-Pass (n = 87), MTBI-Fail (n = 42), and severe traumatic brain injury (STBI)-Pass (n = 29). The MTBI-Fail group performed worse on the majority of CPT-II measures compared with both the MTBI-Pass and STBI-Pass groups. When comparing the MTBI-Fail group and MTBI-Pass groups, the most accurate measure for identifying poor effort was the Commission T score. When selected measures were combined (i.e., Omissions, Commissions, and Perseverations), there was a very small increase in sensitivity (from .26 to .29). When comparing the MTBI-Fail group and STBI-Pass groups, the most accurate measure for identifying poor effort was the Omission and Commissions T score. When selected measures were combined, sensitivity again increased (from .24 to .45). Overall, these results suggest that individual CPT-II measures can be useful for identifying people who are suspected of providing poor effort from those who have provided adequate effort. However, due to low sensitivity and modest negative predictive power values, this measure cannot be used in isolation to detect poor effort, and is largely useful as a test to "rule in," not "rule out" poor effort.

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