The Use of Rapid Assessment Instruments as Outcomes Measures

Kevin Corcoran,Ph.D., J.D., Professor, School of Social Work, Portland State University

The past two decades have witnessed the nearly exponential growth of psychometrically sound and clinically useful measurement tools. These instruments are useful for assessment and diagnosis, monitoring treatment process, and evaluating treatment outcome. However, this increase in available instruments has not been matched with routine incorporation by practitioners. The typical mental health practitioner in most private and public settings seem to continue to rely on practice wisdom, clinical judgments, intuition and all that.

This is all changing because of managed care. It seems that where educators had only marginal success in persuading practitioners to integrate research and practice, managed care is having success. While we waxed eloquently about the value of research for practice, managed care simply demanded that clinicians systematically measure client problems and goals, monitor treatment, and evaluate its effectiveness. Suddenly, topics covered in research are truly clinical practice skills. Standardized measurement and cutting scores are clinical practice tools for assessment and triage.

As a consequence of the demands of managed care, clinicians of all disciplines are increasingly seeking good measurement tools. Clinicians seek assessment tools which enable them to easily fulfill the demands of managed care. This paper will illustrate how Rapid Assessment Instruments (RAIs) are valuable not only in evidencing treatment outcomes (including goal attainment), but as tools which can also be used to evidence the need for treatment.

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