Thursday, 15 Jul 2004

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release: Thursday 15 July 2004 Methods of identifying behavioural problems are past their ‘use-by-date’ Traditional checklists and rating instruments used to assist in the diagnosis of children and adolescents with behavioural problems – particularly inattentive behaviours – have long since passed their ‘use-by-date,’ according to Drs Ken and Kathy Rowe. “Given that serious decisions are frequently made on the basis of ‘measures’ obtained from such instruments, including: the labelling of a child as ‘pathologic’, subsequent referral to intervention therapy services, and prescription of medication by a physician, it is crucial that such instruments be of the highest quality in terms of both their design and measurement properties,” they said. Such ratings are problematic for many children due to their length and the time involved in completing them, and especially because they focus on negative behaviours – resulting in the prejudicial identification of ‘pathology’, regardless of its presence or absence. Estimates of the prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) vary from less than 1%, to as high as 20%, depending on the methods of data collection used, the sampling characteristics of the populations targeted, and the determination of ‘deviance’ criteria. Behavioural rating developers and researchers who continue to use ‘data-fishing’ methods that fail to account for the measurement, distributional and structural properties of the obtained data (typically consisting of raw unweighted response scores), run the risk of generating biased and misleading estimates. “The need to adopt more rigorous approaches to measurement and analyses of the related data is urgent.” Dr Ken Rowe, a Research Director at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and Dr Kathy Rowe, Consultant Physician at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital will speak at the International Test Users’ Conference 2004 hosted by ACER in Melbourne. The conference will take place on July 19 and 20 at Melbourne’s Hilton on the Park hotel. For further information please phone (03) 9835 7403 or visit the ACER website at A full copy of the paper presented by Drs Ken and Kathy Rowe at the conference is available at: ****************ENDS*************