Although the clinical items do no cover a formal scale they are in fact derived from the following scales: Conduct Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Eating Disturbance, Conduct Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder, Major Depression, Anger/Violence Proneness, Academic problems, Suicide, and interpersonal problems.
The Development of the APS-SF
The original APS was the source of the items on the APS-SF. The majority of the items were generated to evaluate specific DSM-IV symtomology of personality and clinical disorders, as well as reflect the time frame associated with relevant symptoms. Preliminary version of the APS was scrutinized by a panel of experts, after which there was an initial field test with a small sample ‘adolescent psychiatric inpatients and out patients’. Items were scrutinized by the experts for prospective gender bias, clearness of the implications of the items, as well as the content Validity of the items. After which, a sample of 9 adolescent psychiatric out patients and in patients finished this particular version and were then interviewed about the comprehensibility of the items and instructions. Items were then dropped or modified accordingly.
While selecting the scales to be included in APS-SF, a survey, asking for information on which scales would be best suited was sent out to over 1,000 psychologists and mental health professionals. The standardization, construction and the validation of the Adolescent Psychopathology Scale- Short form involved standardized samples of over 3,300 individuals from school settings and adolescent inpatients and outpatients from clinical sites.
The total school sample included 2,834 adolescents residing in Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Wisconsin or Washington. The sample was varied in characteristics such as socioeconomic status, ethnic background, sex, grade and residence (Urban, Suburban, Rural or Farm). The Clinical sample was made up of 506 adolescents from 22 states and 31 clinical sites.
Development of Norms for the APS-SF
A total of 1827 students made up the standardized sample used in development of the norms for APS-SF. This included (and separately normed as well) males (n=900), females (n=927), adolescents aged 12 to 14 years (n=749), adolescents 15-19 years (n=1076) and, moreover, gender-by age group with in these samples. T scores were computed from raw APS-SF scores and have a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. See Figure 1, 2 & 3 for break downs.
Scoring and Administration
The APS-SF was developed for use in evaluation of adolescent’s ages 12 to 19 years. It was created at third grade level reading ability; caution should be implemented when testing individuals whose first language is not English.
Administration and scoring of the test is quite simple and can be accomplished by technicians and other trained personnel. Interpretation of the APS-SF profiles and test scores is the sole responsibility of qualified professionals.
The test can be administrated to an individual or a group and should be completed within 15 to 20 minutes. There are a minimum number of completed items needed to score the test. This includes the critical items and as well as items from other specified scales. The APS-SF must be scored by the APS-SF Scoring Program, prices for the program and other items are detailed in Figure 4.
Generally, examiners and interpreters should use caution when scores fall close to a cutoff due to the standard error of measurement associate with each scale. When considering the descriptions of clinical severity levels of psychopathology associated with APS-SF T scores, a T score range below 60 is considered a normal range as far as clinical interpretation. T score range between 60 and 64 is deemed subclinical symptom range. A T score range encompassing 65 trough 69 is considered Mild Clinical symptom range. 70-79 is a moderate clinical symptom range and 80 and above is considered the severe clinical symptom range.
Validation and Reliability Studies
The Adolescent Psychopathology Scale- Short form ’s scales include: Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression that are all designed with items which correspond to DSM IV symptom specification for precise disorders. In so doing, a single item’s contribution to the scale (as in the case of item-with-total scale correlation) indicates content validity. The APS –SF item with total scale correlation coefficient are between 40 to 70 ranges.
Considering criterion related validity Correlation, between MMPI scales and the APS-SF scales varied between 20 and 70. Correlation between specific Reynolds Adolescent Depression scales, Beck Depression Inventory, and Suicide ideation Questionnaire are demonstrated in Figure 5.
Internal Consistency Reliability in standardized sample ranged from 80 to 91. Test-Retest Reliability for clinical scales ranged from 76 to 91 (14 day interval with a sample of 64 adolescents 26 male and 38 females)
There are two main issues of clinical importance when considering the use of the Adolescent Psychopathology Scale- Short form scale. Firstly, the APS-SF is a self report measure. This means that test takers may not respond honestly and hence mask actual symptoms. On the other hand, test takers may over-endorse symptoms and represent themselves in an excessively negative light.
Secondly, it must be stressed that the APS-SF does not provide a definitive DSM-IV diagnosis. Essentially, the scales provide clinical levels of symptology and not the underlying disorder or absence of any disorder. Once, the APS-SF is used to identify individuals with relevant levels of symptoms a follow up with a mental health professional is required to establish the existence, type and degree of an adolescent’s psychiatric disorder.
Another point must be made in the usage of the APS-SF; the clinician is required to maintain standards of ethical decorum. This entails a thorough understanding of the appropriate use of the scale and to appreciate its current limitations.
As with other assessment tools at the professional’s disposal the results of the APS-SF should always be accompanied with clinical interviews, observations, information from parents, schools and clinical records.
Applications of the APS-SF
The APS-SF is suitable in Clinical and non-clinical environments such as schools, juvenile detention halls, correction facilities and substance abuse treatment programs.