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HKADCP Guidelines on the Use of Psychological Tests

Introduction

In their professional roles as clinicians, educators and researchers, Psychologists select assessment tools that are appropriate for the purpose and population with which they will be used.  Whenever possible, Psychologists utilize assessment instruments that have been normed and validated on individuals who are similar to those being tested.  Similarity may be based on demographic characteristics such as age, education, gender, ethnicity and language or clinical characteristics such as medical history or psychiatric diagnosis.
Most psychological tests have been developed in the West and many of these have not, as yet, been translated into Chinese or normed on a Hong Kong population.  Some tests that have been translated and normed in Hong Kong are not currently available for purchase by all doctoral level Psychologists here.  Thus, the ideal matching of population or clinical norms with the individuals being tested is not always possible. HKADCP is providing best-practice guidelines for these circumstances.


Purpose

These guidelines are suggestions for ethical practice when selecting psychometric tests for use by HKADCP Registered Clinical Psychologists under the circumstances described above. 

Applicability

These guidelines have been integrated with comments from experts from psychology community locally and internationally.  They are not definitive and are not intended to supersede the clinical judgment of the Psychologist.  Guidelines and publications related to the use of psychometric tests prepared by other professional psychological associations should also be taken into consideration (see references).

Guidelines

Guideline 1: Seek to qualify with test publishers as a test user.
Test publishers and distributors are expected to apply similar tests user qualification criteria, consistently and fairly, in all countries and localities.
Having completed a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology and legally registered/licensed or eligible to be registered/licensed as a clinical psychologist/psychologist with an overseas statutory authority of a well-developed country, members of HKADCP are qualified to purchase all psychological tests that are generally available to doctoral level psychologists in well-developed countries.  Being refused purchase of tests by a test publisher or distributor may involve the inconsistent application of qualification criteria or an unfair restraint of trade.  Consider appropriate actions that could be taken to obtain just and fair treatment from the publisher so that the public may have an unrestrained opportunity to obtain psychometric testing.

Guideline 2:  Adhere to testing guidelines established by test publishers and distributors.
Whenever possible adhere to the instructions issued by test publishers when administering and scoring tests.  When standard administration is not possible, acknowledge that this is a non-standard administration of the test.
Respect the copyright and protect the content of psychometric tests so that they will remain valid for use with the population in question. 

Guideline 3: Seek to obtain and use tests that have been normed and validated on an appropriate Hong Kong population.  When this is not possible, acknowledge interpretive limitations in the test report.
Because results of the same test may vary when applied to different cultural groups, Psychologists should make their best effort to obtain psychometric tests that have been normed and validated with clinical groups in Hong Kong.
Consider collaborating with another professional who has access to Hong Kong norms for the test in question.
When local norms are not available, use tests that have norms matching at least some of the demographic or clinical characteristics of those being tested.  Limitations in forming conclusions based on test results that are due to a weak match between norms and the characteristics of the person being tested should be acknowledged in the test report and provided to the examinee during the informed consent process.

Guideline 4:  Professional expertise is not based on the use of one test.
Psychological tests are mental measurement tools that are designed for a specific purpose.   Often, there are many alternative tests available for the same purpose.  Psychologists select which test to use based on many criteria: purpose, availability, cost, validity, reliability, norms, diagnostic power, etc.  Psychologists do not base their conclusions only on the results of one test.  They take all of the information available to them about the individual into account. Thus, it is inconsistent with accepted psychological practice to use access to purchase a single published test as evidence of professional competency.

Guideline 5:  Language used when testing
Whenever possible, administer tests in the primary language of the test taker.
When using an interpreter or informal translation in a clinical setting, acknowledge that the test administration is non-standard.
Formal translation of test instructions or test items should be undertaken only with permission from the test publisher.

Guideline 6:  Use tests that are up-to-date
Use the most current edition of tests and norms unless there is a compelling rationale for using a previous edition.

References

American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education (1999). Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

This document is scheduled to expire by June 2015. After this date, users are encouraged to contact HKADCP to confirm that this document remains in effect.