Coordinating Author Information: Jules Merguie | Sam Houston State University

Session Abstract: BACKGROUND
In the practice of psychological assessment, the amount of time needed to complete a given test is frequently taken into consideration by clinicians (e.g., when designing a test battery or planning sessions). Many test publishers provide an estimated range of time individuals will need to complete each test, but the actual amount of time needed can vary. Clients experiencing different psychological symptoms may systematically vary in the amount of time needed to complete a self-report test. Clarification of this variability can help clinicians better plan assessment sessions, increasing efficiency to ultimately improve the services provided to clients. Therefore, this study investigated the relationships between different psychological symptoms and the amount of time it took for individuals to complete a predetermined set of self-report measures.

A total of 1,215 participants (79.3% female, 20.2% male, 0.5% other/I wish not to respond) with a mean age of 20.84 (SD=4.51) were recruited from a medium-sized public university in the southern United States. Of these participants, 33.4% identified their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino/a/x; 62.0% of participants identified as White or Caucasian, 20.7% as Black or African American, 2.0% as Asian, 1.4% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.2% as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 6.6% as mixed race, and 7.1% as other.

All participants completed a series of self-report measures, hosted on Qualtrics, as part of a larger data collection project. Two measures were used for the present study: the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) was used to assess psychological symptoms and distress. The second measure was behavioral in nature and consisted of calculating the amount of time each participant spent completing a predetermined set of self-report measures (in seconds).

Correlational analyses were used to investigate associations between symptom domains and the amount of time participants spent to complete the self-report measures. Due to violations of multivariate and bivariate normality assumptions, Kendall’s tau-b was used. The amount of time taken to complete the series of self-report measures was found to positively correlate with the following symptom domains: Obsessive Compulsive (Tb = .084, p < .001), Depression (Tb = .048, p = .013), Anxiety (Tb = .040, p = .043), Phobic Anxiety (Tb = .042, p = .039), Paranoid Ideation (Tb = .070, p < .001), and Psychoticism (Tb = .061, p = .002), as well as global severity (Tb = .058, p = .002) and the number of symptoms (Tb = .066, p < .001). Interestingly, no relationship emerged between the amount of distress experienced due to symptoms and the amount of time taken to complete the measures.

Several symptom domains were significantly associated with more time spent completing self-report measures. This highlights the need for further investigation into symptom-specific variability in the amount of time individuals need to complete commonly used tests. Findings from such research could help clinicians take a more person-centered approach to planning testing sessions, which could reduce testing fatigue and other issues. Current findings are discussed in the context of these potential benefits.


Jules Merguie | Sam Houston State University

Adam P. Natoli, PhD | Sam Houston State University

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