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PARTNERING WITH YOU: 
USING TELEHEALTH FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

Access to mental health treatment is critically important during the COVID-19 crisis. PAR is here to help you navigate this challenging time. We recognize that standard assessment practices may not be possible, and we want to provide guidance on how you can use PAR products via telehealth technology while still retaining the integrity and security of the measures.

HOW TO USE PAR PRODUCTS VIA TELEHEALTH 
WHILE RETAINING INTEGRITY AND SECURITY


PAR follows these guidelines when developing and standardizing our assessment products:

  • Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychological Association [APA], 2017)
  • Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 2014)

There are three issues that must be considered if you need to modify standard practices for telehealth administration:

  1. COPYRIGHT STANDARDS
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PAR is granting limited and revocable permission to our customers to administer PAR assessments using telehealth technologies, as long as our copyrighted materials are not photocopied, recorded, reproduced, published, or electronically stored. Preservation of these copyright standards is consistent with professional ethical responsibilities to protect confidential client information.
  2. TEST SECURITY
    The integrity and security of the test must always be maintained, especially when using telehealth technology.  The security of its testing materials is very important to PAR. We consider tests and test materials to be trade secrets, protected to the fullest extent under law. Test questions and answers, profile forms, manuals, stimulus materials, and other items accompanying the test are confidential, and PAR takes steps to secure and ensure confidentiality of this material throughout the development process and after publication. Assessment instruments are sold only to qualified individuals, who are obligated by professional ethical standards to protect the integrity of the materials by maintaining the confidentiality of the questions and answers. When administering a PAR test using telehealth technology, the customer must maintain the security and integrity of the test at all times.
  3. MEASUREMENT FIDELITY
    The administration and scoring procedures used to standardize and validate assessments are documented in the professional or technical manual for that test. With few exceptions, PAR’s performance-based tests were standardized during an in-person, examiner–client interaction. Before administering a performance-based test using telehealth technology, customers should carefully review the test’s standardization procedures. Based on this review, deviations from the standardization procedure may be warranted and supported by the specific clinical situation and context. Examiners should ensure the “conditions of administration indicated in the test manual are preserved when adapted for use with such technologies” (Joint Task Force for the Development of Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychologists, 2013, p. 798).

POTENTIAL CONCERNS WHEN ADMINISTERING TESTS 
VIA TELEHEALTH TECHNOLOGIES


Distractions may be present, there may be access to various forms of assistance, and the presence of third parties—for example, test proctors or administrative supports—may be unavoidable. The accuracy of results may be influenced by the quality of the technology used, the hardware specifications needed, the speed of the internet connection, and other technical factors. Finally, a client’s cultural factors, socioeconomic background, and familiarity with computers may affect results.

Mental health professionals must describe and disclose any modifications or alterations made to the standardization procedures and to consider the impact of these differences on the reliability, validity, and interpretability of the client’s test scores. 

Please be aware of the scientific literature of the assessment, have familiarity with relevant state laws and national practice standards, and abide by the guidance of APA and the American Telemedicine Association (Luxton, Pruitt, & Osenbach, 2014).

CLOSING THOUGHTS


In this crisis, the changes to normal routines and practices can be stressful. Please know that PAR is working diligently to provide innovative ways to help you help those you serve. Please visit PAR’s COVID-19 web page, which is continually updated with additional resources and links.

The equivalence of paper and online administration of rating scales has been well established (Muehlhausen et al., 2015). PAR’s powerful online platform, PARiConnect, is a valuable resource with more than 70 assessment products that can be administered end-to-end online. PARiConnect can facilitate administration, scoring, and interpretation of many of PAR’s proprietary products. PARiConnect adheres to strict data security and privacy measures.

REFERENCES


  • American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education. (2014). Standards for edu­cational and psychological testing (3rd ed.). https://www.apa.org/science/programs/testing/standards.aspx
  • American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017). https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx
  • Joint Task Force for the Development of Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychologists. (2013). Guidelines for the practice of telepsychology. American Psychologist, 68(9), 791–800. 
  • Luxton, D. D., Pruitt, L. D., & Osenbach, J. E. (2014). Best practices for remote psychological assessment via telehealth technologies. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(1), 27–35.https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034547
  • Muelhausen, W., Doll, H., Quadri, N., Fordham, B., O’Donohoe, P., Dodgar, N., & Wild, D. (2015). Equivalence of electronic and paper administration of patient-reported outcome measures: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies conducted between 2007 and 2013. Health Quality of Life Outcomes, 13, 167https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-015-0362-x