False-Positive Rates Associated with the Use of Multiple Performance and Symptom Validity Tests

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Abstract

Performance validity test (PVT) error rates using Monte Carlo simulation reported by Berthelson and colleagues (in False positive diagnosis of malingering due to the use of multiple effort tests. Brain Injury, 27, 909–916, 2013) were compared with PVT and symptom validity test (SVT) failure rates in two nonmalingering clinical samples. At a per-test false-positive rate of 10%, Monte Carlo simulation overestimated error rates for: (i) failure of ≥2 out of 5 PVTs/SVT for Larrabee (in Detection of malingering using atypical performance patterns on standard neuropsychological tests. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 17, 410–425, 2003) and ACS (Pearson, Advanced clinical solutions for use with WAIS-IV and WMS-IV. San Antonio: Pearson Education, 2009) and (ii) failure of ≥2 out of 7 PVTs/SVT for Larrabee (Detection of malingering using atypical performance patterns on standard neuropsychological tests. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 17, 410–425, 2003; Malingering scales for the Continuous Recognition Memory Test and Continuous Visual Memory Test. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 23, 167–180, 2009 combined). Monte Carlo overestimation is likely because PVT performances are atypical in pattern or degree for what occurs in actual neurologic, psychiatric, or developmental disorders. Consequently, PVT scores form skewed distributions with performance at ceiling and restricted range, rather than forming a standard normal distribution with mean of 0 and standard deviation of 1.0. These results support the practice of using ≥2 PVT/SVT failures as representing probable invalid clinical presentation.

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