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HSR&D 2004 National Meeting Abstracts


2038. Racial Disparities in Validity of Psychometric Test Data and PTSD
Patrick S Calhoun, PhD, Durham VAMC and Duke University Medical Center, LE Braxton, Durham VAMC and Duke University Medical Center, JC Beckham, Durham VAMC and Duke University Medical Center

Objectives: Racial disparities in the awarding of VA service-connected disability for PTSD have been documented. The use of psychometric test data is recommended as part of “best practice” model for PTSD evaluations, and is often used to distinguish true patients from individuals over-reporting or feigning PTSD. The current study explored racial differences in validity rates on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2).

Methods: Veterans evaluated for PTSD at a VA PTSD clinic completed the MMPI-2 and measures of PTSD, combat exposure, and demographic variables. The validity of profiles of African American veterans (n=180) was compared to Caucasian veterans (n=102). Test validity was based upon widely accepted criteria.

Results: A greater percentage of African American veterans produced profiles of questionable validity (67% vs. 52%, p=.02). There were no differences based on inconsistent responding. Using the Infrequency-Psychopathology, F(p), scale to distinguish over-reporting from elevated profiles due to distress, more African-American veterans had profiles suggestive of over-reporting (22% v. 13%, p=.04). In regression analyses controlling for age, SES, education, disability status, combat exposure, and PTSD severity, African American race was significantly associated with invalidity due to over-reporting (OR=4.63, 95%CI 1.24-17.37).

Conclusions: A greater proportion of African Americans produced profiles suggestive of over-reporting even after adjusting for background factors and clinical severity.

Impact: Racial differences in validity of psychometric test data after accounting for background factors and clinical status is troubling. More research is needed to examine potential bias in validity rates of the MMPI-2. Racial bias in validity rates of psychometric data could lead to disproportionate denial of PTSD disability claims.