Poor performance validity predicts clinical characteristics and cognitive test performance of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans in a research setting

Alexandra L Clark, Melissa M Amick, Catherine Fortier, William P Milberg, Regina E McGlinchey
Clinical Neuropsychologist 2014, 28 (5): 802-25
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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