Tablet Computers and Forensic and Correctional Psychological Assessment: A Randomized Controlled Study

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Abstract

Mobile computing technology presents various possibilities and challenges for psychological assessment. Within forensic and correctional psychology, assessment of justice-involved persons facilitated by such technology has not been empirically examined. Accordingly, this randomized controlled experiment involved administering questionnaires about risk—needs, treatment readiness, and computerized technology opinions to a large (N = 212) and diverse sample of individuals under custodial correctional supervision using either a tablet computer or traditional paper-and-pencil materials. Results revealed that participants in the paper-and-pencil condition completed the packet of questionnaires faster but omitted items more frequently. Older participants and those with lower levels of education tended to take longer to complete the tablet-administrated measures. The tablet format was rated as more usable irrespective of demographic and personal characteristics, and most participants across the 2 conditions indicated that they would prefer to use computerized technology to complete psychological testing. Administration format did not have a clear effect on attitudes toward correctional rehabilitation services. Noteworthy for researchers is the substantial time saved and absence of practical problems with the tablet condition. Implications for practitioners include the general usability of the devices, their appeal to incarcerated persons, and the potential for tablets to facilitate clinical and administrative tasks with corrections clients. Considering the novel nature of this study, its promising results, and its limitations, future research in this area is warranted.

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