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Modern psychometric theory in clinical assessment

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Item response theory (IRT) and related latent variable models represent modern psychometric theory, the successor to classical test theory in psychological assessment. While IRT has become prevalent in the assessment of ability and achievement, it has not been widely embraced

Item response theory (IRT) and related latent variable models represent modern psychometric theory, the successor to classical test theory in psychological assessment. While IRT has become prevalent in the assessment of ability and achievement, it has not been widely embraced by clinical psychologists. This appears due, in part, to psychometrists' use of unidimensional models despite evidence that psychiatric disorders are inherently multidimensional. The construct validity of unidimensional and multidimensional latent variable models was compared to evaluate the utility of modern psychometric theory in clinical assessment. Archival data consisting of 688 outpatients' presenting concerns, psychiatric diagnoses, and item level responses to the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) were extracted from files at a university mental health clinic. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that models with oblique factors and/or item cross-loadings better represented the internal structure of the BSI in comparison to a strictly unidimensional model. The models were generally equivalent in their ability to account for variance in criterion-related validity variables; however, bifactor models demonstrated superior validity in differentiating between mood and anxiety disorder diagnoses. Multidimensional IRT analyses showed that the orthogonal bifactor model partitioned distinct, clinically relevant sources of item variance. Similar results were also achieved through multivariate prediction with an oblique simple structure model. Receiver operating characteristic curves confirmed improved sensitivity and specificity through multidimensional models of psychopathology. Clinical researchers are encouraged to consider these and other comprehensive models of psychological distress.

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Agent

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Date Created
2011

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Mediation as a novel method for increasing statistical power

Description

Including a covariate can increase power to detect an effect between two variables. Although previous research has studied power in mediation models, the extent to which the inclusion of a mediator will increase the power to detect a relation between

Including a covariate can increase power to detect an effect between two variables. Although previous research has studied power in mediation models, the extent to which the inclusion of a mediator will increase the power to detect a relation between two variables has not been investigated. The first study identified situations where empirical and analytical power of two tests of significance for a single mediator model was greater than power of a bivariate significance test. Results from the first study indicated that including a mediator increased statistical power in small samples with large effects and in large samples with small effects. Next, a study was conducted to assess when power was greater for a significance test for a two mediator model as compared with power of a bivariate significance test. Results indicated that including two mediators increased power in small samples when both specific mediated effects were large and in large samples when both specific mediated effects were small. Implications of the results and directions for future research are then discussed.

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Agent

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Date Created
2013

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Estimating causal direct and indirect effects in the presence of post-treatment confounders: a simulation study

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In investigating mediating processes, researchers usually use randomized experiments and linear regression or structural equation modeling to determine if the treatment affects the hypothesized mediator and if the mediator affects the targeted outcome. However, randomizing the treatment will not yield

In investigating mediating processes, researchers usually use randomized experiments and linear regression or structural equation modeling to determine if the treatment affects the hypothesized mediator and if the mediator affects the targeted outcome. However, randomizing the treatment will not yield accurate causal path estimates unless certain assumptions are satisfied. Since randomization of the mediator may not be plausible for most studies (i.e., the mediator status is not randomly assigned, but self-selected by participants), both the direct and indirect effects may be biased by confounding variables. The purpose of this dissertation is (1) to investigate the extent to which traditional mediation methods are affected by confounding variables and (2) to assess the statistical performance of several modern methods to address confounding variable effects in mediation analysis. This dissertation first reviewed the theoretical foundations of causal inference in statistical mediation analysis, modern statistical analysis for causal inference, and then described different methods to estimate causal direct and indirect effects in the presence of two post-treatment confounders. A large simulation study was designed to evaluate the extent to which ordinary regression and modern causal inference methods are able to obtain correct estimates of the direct and indirect effects when confounding variables that are present in the population are not included in the analysis. Five methods were compared in terms of bias, relative bias, mean square error, statistical power, Type I error rates, and confidence interval coverage to test how robust the methods are to the violation of the no unmeasured confounders assumption and confounder effect sizes. The methods explored were linear regression with adjustment, inverse propensity weighting, inverse propensity weighting with truncated weights, sequential g-estimation, and a doubly robust sequential g-estimation. Results showed that in estimating the direct and indirect effects, in general, sequential g-estimation performed the best in terms of bias, Type I error rates, power, and coverage across different confounder effect, direct effect, and sample sizes when all confounders were included in the estimation. When one of the two confounders were omitted from the estimation process, in general, none of the methods had acceptable relative bias in the simulation study. Omitting one of the confounders from estimation corresponded to the common case in mediation studies where no measure of a confounder is available but a confounder may affect the analysis. Failing to measure potential post-treatment confounder variables in a mediation model leads to biased estimates regardless of the analysis method used and emphasizes the importance of sensitivity analysis for causal mediation analysis.

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Agent

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Date Created
2013

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Propensity score estimation with random forests

Description

Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of

Random Forests is a statistical learning method which has been proposed for propensity score estimation models that involve complex interactions, nonlinear relationships, or both of the covariates. In this dissertation I conducted a simulation study to examine the effects of three Random Forests model specifications in propensity score analysis. The results suggested that, depending on the nature of data, optimal specification of (1) decision rules to select the covariate and its split value in a Classification Tree, (2) the number of covariates randomly sampled for selection, and (3) methods of estimating Random Forests propensity scores could potentially produce an unbiased average treatment effect estimate after propensity scores weighting by the odds adjustment. Compared to the logistic regression estimation model using the true propensity score model, Random Forests had an additional advantage in producing unbiased estimated standard error and correct statistical inference of the average treatment effect. The relationship between the balance on the covariates' means and the bias of average treatment effect estimate was examined both within and between conditions of the simulation. Within conditions, across repeated samples there was no noticeable correlation between the covariates' mean differences and the magnitude of bias of average treatment effect estimate for the covariates that were imbalanced before adjustment. Between conditions, small mean differences of covariates after propensity score adjustment were not sensitive enough to identify the optimal Random Forests model specification for propensity score analysis.

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Agent

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Date Created
2013

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Assessing dimensionality in complex data structures: a performance comparison of DETECT and NOHARM procedures

Description

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of complex structure on dimensionality assessment in compensatory and noncompensatory multidimensional item response models (MIRT) of assessment data using dimensionality assessment procedures based on conditional covariances (i.e., DETECT) and a

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of complex structure on dimensionality assessment in compensatory and noncompensatory multidimensional item response models (MIRT) of assessment data using dimensionality assessment procedures based on conditional covariances (i.e., DETECT) and a factor analytical approach (i.e., NOHARM). The DETECT-based methods typically outperformed the NOHARM-based methods in both two- (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) compensatory MIRT conditions. The DETECT-based methods yielded high proportion correct, especially when correlations were .60 or smaller, data exhibited 30% or less complexity, and larger sample size. As the complexity increased and the sample size decreased, the performance typically diminished. As the complexity increased, it also became more difficult to label the resulting sets of items from DETECT in terms of the dimensions. DETECT was consistent in classification of simple items, but less consistent in classification of complex items. Out of the three NOHARM-based methods, χ2G/D and ALR generally outperformed RMSR. χ2G/D was more accurate when N = 500 and complexity levels were 30% or lower. As the number of items increased, ALR performance improved at correlation of .60 and 30% or less complexity. When the data followed a noncompensatory MIRT model, the NOHARM-based methods, specifically χ2G/D and ALR, were the most accurate of all five methods. The marginal proportions for labeling sets of items as dimension-like were typically low, suggesting that the methods generally failed to label two (three) sets of items as dimension-like in 2D (3D) noncompensatory situations. The DETECT-based methods were more consistent in classifying simple items across complexity levels, sample sizes, and correlations. However, as complexity and correlation levels increased the classification rates for all methods decreased. In most conditions, the DETECT-based methods classified complex items equally or more consistent than the NOHARM-based methods. In particular, as complexity, the number of items, and the true dimensionality increased, the DETECT-based methods were notably more consistent than any NOHARM-based method. Despite DETECT's consistency, when data follow a noncompensatory MIRT model, the NOHARM-based method should be preferred over the DETECT-based methods to assess dimensionality due to poor performance of DETECT in identifying the true dimensionality.

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Agent

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Date Created
2011

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Communicating with compassion: the exploratory factor analysis and primary validation process of the Compassionate Communication Scale

Description

The purpose of this dissertation was to develop a Compassionate Communication Scale (CCS) by conducting a series of studies. The first study used qualitative data to identify and develop initial scale items. A series of follow-up studies used exploratory factor

The purpose of this dissertation was to develop a Compassionate Communication Scale (CCS) by conducting a series of studies. The first study used qualitative data to identify and develop initial scale items. A series of follow-up studies used exploratory factor analysis to investigate the underlying structure of the CCS. A three-factor structure emerged, which included: Compassionate conversation, such as listening, letting the distressed person disclose feelings, and making empathetic remarks; compassionate touch, such as holding someone's hand or patting someone's back; and compassionate messaging, such as posting an encouraging message on a social networking site or sending a sympathetic email. The next study tested convergent and divergent validity by determining how the three forms of compassionate communication associate with various traits. Compassionate conversation was positively related to compassion, empathetic concern, perspective taking, emotional intelligence, social expressivity, emotional expressivity and benevolence, and negatively related to verbal aggressiveness and narcissism. Compassionate touch was positively correlated with compassion, empathetic concern, perspective taking, emotional intelligence, social expressivity, emotional expressivity, and benevolence, and uncorrelated with verbal aggressiveness and benevolence. Finally, compassionate messaging was positively correlated with social expressivity, emotional expressivity, and uncorrelated with verbal aggressiveness and narcissism. The next study focused on cross-validation and criterion-related validity. Correlations showing that self-reports of a person's compassionate communication were positively related to a friend or romantic partner's report of that person's compassionate communication provided cross-validation. The test for criterion-related validity examined whether compassionate communication predicts relational satisfaction. Regression analyses revealed that people were more relationally satisfied when they perceived themselves to use compassionate conversation, when they perceived their partner to use compassionate conversation, and when their partner reported using compassionate conversation. This finding did not extend to compassionate touch or compassionate messaging. In fact, in one regression analysis, people reported more relational satisfaction when they perceived that their partners used high levels of compassionate conversation and low levels of compassionate touch. Overall, the analyses suggest that of the three forms of compassionate communication, compassionate conversation is most strongly related to relational satisfaction. Taken together, this series of studies provides initial evidence for the validity of the CCS.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2013