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Screening for postdeployment conditions: development and cross-validation of an embedded validity scale in the neurobehavioral symptom inventory.

Vanderploeg RD, Cooper DB, Belanger HG, Donnell AJ, Kennedy JE, Hopewell CA, Scott SG. Screening for postdeployment conditions: development and cross-validation of an embedded validity scale in the neurobehavioral symptom inventory. The Journal of head trauma rehabilitation. 2014 Jan 1; 29(1):1-10.

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OBJECTIVE: To develop and cross-validate internal validity scales for the Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NSI). PARTICIPANTS: Four existing data sets were used: (1) outpatient clinical traumatic brain injury (TBI)/neurorehabilitation database from a military site (n = 403), (2) National Department of Veterans Affairs TBI evaluation database (n = 48 175), (3) Florida National Guard nonclinical TBI survey database (n = 3098), and (4) a cross-validation outpatient clinical TBI/neurorehabilitation database combined across 2 military medical centers (n = 206). RESEARCH DESIGN: Secondary analysis of existing cohort data to develop (study 1) and cross-validate (study 2) internal validity scales for the NSI. MAIN MEASURES: The NSI, Mild Brain Injury Atypical Symptoms, and Personality Assessment Inventory scores. RESULTS: Study 1: Three NSI validity scales were developed, composed of 5 unusual items (Negative Impression Management [NIM5]), 6 low-frequency items (LOW6), and the combination of 10 nonoverlapping items (Validity-10). Cut scores maximizing sensitivity and specificity on these measures were determined, using a Mild Brain Injury Atypical Symptoms score of 8 or more as the criterion for invalidity. Study 2: The same validity scale cut scores again resulted in the highest classification accuracy and optimal balance between sensitivity and specificity in the cross-validation sample, using a Personality Assessment Inventory Negative Impression Management scale with a T score of 75 or higher as the criterion for invalidity. CONCLUSIONS: The NSI is widely used in the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs as a symptom-severity assessment following TBI, but is subject to symptom overreporting or exaggeration. This study developed embedded NSI validity scales to facilitate the detection of invalid response styles. The NSI Validity-10 scale appears to hold considerable promise for validity assessment when the NSI is used as a population-screening tool.

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