Concurrent Validity of the Personality Assessment Screener in a Large Sample of Offenders

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Abstract

Mental health problems are disproportionately prevalent in forensic and correctional settings, and there have been numerous attempts to develop screening tools to evaluate individuals in such contexts. This study investigates the clinical utility of the Personality Assessment Screener (PAS; Morey, 1997), a brief self-report measure of risk for emotional and behavioral dysfunction, in a large mixed-gender offender sample (N = 1,658). The PAS is a 22-item measure derived from the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI; Morey, 1991, 2007), a more comprehensive self-report instrument widely used to assess for psychological disturbances among forensic and correctional populations. We examined the ability of the PAS to concurrently predict clinically significant elevations on the PAI and several other indicators of symptomatology and dysfunction. Collectively, results suggest that PAS total and element (subscale) scores show considerable promise in screening inmates for serious problems with emotional and behavioral functioning, though interpretive ranges used to categorize PAS scores in clinical and community settings may require revision for criminal justice populations. We discuss the applied value of the PAS for detecting specific areas of dysfunction relevant to risk management (e.g., aggression, suicidality) and for concentrating resources on offenders with the most immediate and severe need for psychological services.

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