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Specificity of reliable change models and review of the within-subjects standard deviation as an error term


Specificity of reliable change models and review of the within-subjects standard deviation as an error term



Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology: the Official Journal of the National Academy of Neuropsychologists 26(1): 67-75



ISSN/ISBN: 0887-6177

PMID: 21147862

DOI: 10.1093/arclin/acq087

There is an ongoing debate over the preferred method(s) for determining the reliable change (RC) in individual scores over time. In the present paper, specificity comparisons of several classic and contemporary RC models were made using a real data set. This included a more detailed review of a new RC model recently proposed in this journal, that used the within-subjects standard deviation (WSD) as the error term. It was suggested that the RC(WSD) was more sensitive to change and theoretically superior. The current paper demonstrated that even in the presence of mean practice effects, false-positive rates were comparable across models when reliability was good and initial and retest variances were equivalent. However, when variances differed, discrepancies in classification across models became evident. Notably, the RC using the WSD provided unacceptably high false-positive rates in this setting. It was considered that the WSD was never intended for measuring change in this manner. The WSD actually combines systematic and error variance. The systematic variance comes from measurable between-treatment differences, commonly referred to as practice effect. It was further demonstrated that removal of the systematic variance and appropriate modification of the residual error term for the purpose of testing individual change yielded an error term already published and criticized in the literature. A consensus on the RC approach is needed. To that end, further comparison of models under varied conditions is encouraged.

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Accession: 055871030

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