Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Practical Evaluation

Choosing an appropriate assessment that considers the unique context of the child, adolescent, or adult can be a daunting task for counselors (Cicchetti, 1994). In addition to establishing an assessment's reliability and validity, determining the extent of qualifications necessary for its administration and scoring are equally important. Understanding how to score and obtain accurate results from an assessment is crucial to making inferences that will accurately guide case conceptualization and the overall intervention design. Herein is an evaluation of the Beck Depression Inventory FastScreen for Medical Patients (BDI-FastScreen) that demonstrates its usability as a quick and easy assessment designed to screen medical and substance abuse patients for depression. The evaluation includes the qualifications for its use, its general administration, and scoring procedures.

                                                 Qualification of Examiners
The BDI-FastScreen for Medical Patients (BDI-FastScreen) is a cost-effective, focused evaluation tool that can be self-administered in 5 minutes and easily scored (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The BDI-FastScreen is listed for purchase in the United States with a B Qualification level, which means the purchaser must be a member of a professional organization that promotes or requires appropriate assessment training and qualification (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012). If the purchaser does not retain such a membership, he or she must have a master's degree in a field related to the intended use of the instrument (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012). This may include a master's degree in psychology, education, social work, or other related field. There are no licensing requirements or special training specific to the BDI-FastScreen, and although qualification for purchase exists, the scoring can be done by office staff (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012).

As the vendor of the BDI-FastScreen, Pearson Education, Inc. (2012) expressed its commitment to maintaining standards in testing according to the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education . To facilitate the ethical and appropriate use of assessments, purchasers must use an established qualification system that requires the purchaser to register and submit to a verification of qualifications. The purchaser must comply with the registration process by completing a user acceptance form that requests basic demographic information as well as the primary work setting, professional degrees obtained, training or coursework completed in assessments, licenses or certifications received, and active organization memberships (Pearson Education, Inc., 2012).

                                                          Scoring Provisions

General Administration
The answer sheet is a one page form whereon the examinee's name, age, gender, marital status, occupation, and level of education is documented. The BDI-FastScreen has seven items listed in two columns (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). It can be easily attached to a clipboard along with other intake forms, if the clinician deems appropriate. Furthermore, the assessment can be read to clients who cannot read English (Whiston & Eder, 2003). The answer sheet contains a warning about the black and green ink colors on the form to prevent photocopying, which is an infringement of copyright laws.

Scoring Procedures

The manual is easy to understand although may pose some difficulty for untrained examiners (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). Examiners should be particularly attentive to non-zero responses to the items regarding pessimism and suicidal thoughts (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). The manual clearly explains how to add the scores from the 7 test items to find the total score (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The symptoms measured include: sadness, pessimism, past failure, loss of pleasure, self-dislike, self-criticalness and suicidal thoughts (Strauss, Spreen, & Sherman, 2006). Each question is marked 0 through 3 using a Likert-type scale. The highest possible score is 21 if the client responded with a 3 to all of the items, and the lowest possible score is zero if the client answered each question with a 0 (Segal & Hilsenroth, 2004). The manual provides guidance on total test scores as follows: 0-3 is minimal; 4-8 is mild; 9-12 is moderate, and 13-21 is severe depression (Whiston & Eder, 2003). Some research indicates that when utilizing this assessment for individuals of diverse populations, there may be alternative cut scores and the counselor may want to check for appropriateness with these populations (Strauss, Spreen, & Sherman, 2006).


The BDI-FastScreen is an easy-to-use pencil and paper instrument for screening depression in medical and substance abuse patients (Hennessey & Pallone, 2003). Counselors will appreciate the limited requirements for its use, its design simplicity and easy scoring, and the interpretive guidance from the straightforward manual.


Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.

Cicchetti, D. V. (1994). Guidelines, criteria, and rules of thumb for evaluating normed and standardized assessment instruments in psychology. Psychological Assessment, 6(4), 284-290. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.6.4.284

Hennessy, J., J. & Pallone, N., J. (2003). Review of the BDI-FastScreen for Medical Patients. In B.S. Plake, J.C. Impara, & R.A. Spies (Eds.), The seventeenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Pearson Education, Inc. (2012). Qualification Levels. Assessment and Information. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from US/Site/ProductsAndServices/HowToOrder/Qualifications.htm

Segal, D. L., & Hilsenroth, M. J. (2004). Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Strauss, E., Spreen, O., & Sherman, E. M. (2006). A Compendium of neuropsychological tests: Administration, norms, and commentary. Oxford [etc.: Oxford University Press.

Whiston, S., C. & Eder, K. (2003). Review of the BDI-FastScreen for Medical Patients. In B.S. Plake, J.C. Impara, & R.A. Spies (Eds.), The seventeenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

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