Evidence based assessment/Vignettes/Tamika

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Clinical description[edit]

Tamika is an 11 year old African American female in regular education. Her mother sought treatment for her increased anger, aggression, being “hyper,” having trouble sleeping, lying, talking to herself, and stealing. At home, she was often cranky and refused to share things with her two siblings and younger cousin, who were all living in the same house. When she had tantrums, she screamed, threw things, broke a plate and some toys, and escalated to the point that the mother worried she might injure someone. Tamika is starting to have problems at school, including lower grades and disruptive classroom behaviors such as talking out of turn, getting easily distracted, and frequently arguing with peers and some teachers.

Assessment findings[edit]

Checklist scores[edit]

Tamika, her mother, and her teacher all completed the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA) checklists. Here are the results, reported as T scores (M = 50, standard deviation (SD) = 10, compared to other women between 11 and 18 years of age).

ASEBA Scores
Scale Mom Tamika Teacher
Externalizing 82 75 56
Internalizing 70 66 54
Anxious/Depressed 60 64 59
Withdrawn 64 61 50
Somatic Complaints 76 68 50
Attention Problems 68 66 63
Social Problems 74 73 50
Thought Problems 75 70 57
Delinquent/Rule-Breaking 76 53 50
Aggressive Behavior 91 54 59

Mental status and clinical observations[edit]

(add content)

Diagnostic interview findings[edit]

Diagnoses are based on a LEAD (Longitudinal expert evaluation of all data) consensus meeting following a Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (KSADS) interview, using DSM-IV criteria. The same interviewer met with Tamika, and then her mother, then discussed any differences of opinion with them as needed to use clinical judgment. KSADS results were reviewed with a licensed clinical psychologist to arrive at a final decision.

  • PTSD (100)
  • ADHD (65)
  • ODD (70)
  • r/o reactive attachment disorder (49)    
  • r/o mood NOS (33)

Cognitive and achievement testing[edit]

(Not done as part of the evaluation; may be able to match up information later)

Prediction phase[edit]

Let's see how we would apply the EBA principles to Arlene:

Shortlist of Probable Hypotheses[edit]

Based on Arlene's age and the common clinical issues, here are the possible issues:

  • A mood disorder definitely is a leading hypothesis. The suicide attempt also suggests evaluating mood disorder (although not everyone who attempts suicide has a mood disorder). Within the "mood" category, the hypotheses should consider major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar spectrum disorders, as well as other medical issues that could lead to mood symptoms.
  • Substance misuse should be another hypothesis, based again on its prevalence in her age group.
  • Anxiety disorders would be a third hypothesis.
  • Conduct problems would be a fourth -- they are not immediately suggested by the description of the presenting problem, but they are common in the age group, and they also can be a risk factor for self harm.
  • Attention problems are worth evaluating based on prevalence, though her prior academic performance does not suggest any additional reason for concern.
  • The family conflict is also important to assess, as well as potential cultural issues (and differences of opinion between Arlene and her parents that might be influenced by differing degrees of acculturation).

Risk and Protective Factors and Moderators[edit]

Arlene's gender and age increase the probability of a mood disorder, and may reduce the chances of conduct disorder. Her solid academic performance previously suggests potential resilience.

Her conflict with her father, and her keeping things secret from her parents, would be considerations before doing family therapy, and they may complicate consent for treatment (Arlene is still a minor).

Some data suggest that Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) may be particularly effective with Hispanic teens, perhaps moreso than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), because of the greater emphasis on family (and familism). IPT would have an advantage of not requiring active participation of the father (unlike family therapy), since IPT is designed as an individual therapy.

Updating probability of diagnoses[edit]

Below is a worksheet with the DLRs left blank to be filled in. Answers are below.

Tamika Common Dx Hypotheses (A) Starting Prob. (B) Broad Measure (D) Cross-informant (E) Confirmation (G) Treatment Phase (I), (J), (K)
Base Rate from Rettew et al. (2009) SDI[1] Scale & Score DLR Revised Prob. EAY Check Next Test score DLR Revised Prob. K-SADS Interview
Any Anxiety Specific Phobia 0.15
PTSD 0.09 PTSD (100%)

Internalizing 70

Other measures are better than Achenbach
Panic Disorder 0.11
Social Phobia 0.20
Separation Anxiety 0.18
Any Impulse Control Disorder ODD 0.38 CBCL T

Aggressive 91

No data about TRF scales for aggressive ODD (70%)
CD 0.25 CBCL T

Aggressive 91


Attention 68


Attention 63

0.73 0.76 ADHD combined (65%)
Any Mood Disorder MDD 0.26 CBCL T

Anx/Dep 60

Haven't found data about TRF for internalizing
Dysthymia 0.08
Any Substance Abuse Disorder 0.30 CBCL #2

CBCL #99 CBCL #105

Click below for filled out chart.

Cross-informant perspectives[edit]

Mention that these have DLRs. Also unpack the implications of agreement and disagreement for the client (and add a section about treatment implications of disagreement on the Conceptual Model Pages)

Prescription phase[edit]

Treatment Selection[edit]

The diagnostic interview suggests a combination of a major depressive episode and a prior dysthymia, sometimes referred to as a "double depression." This suggests that Arlene's stress and mood problems have persisted for a long time, and may be more difficult to treat. The mood disorders clearly are associated with impairment and should be a major focus of treatment.

Moderating Factors[edit]

The double depression is a moderating factor suggesting worse prognosis, along with potential demoralization and early drop out from treatment.

Client Preferences[edit]

Arlene was originally leaning towards an antidepressant medication, thinking that she could take it without telling her parents. After discussing the pros and cons of medication (including the effect size in youths, the potential side effects, and the fact that her parents would find out as part of the consent process), as well as the pros and cons of different evidence based therapies, she elected to try IPT. She wanted to revisit the possibility of a stimulant helping with her inattention, but she opted to wait and see if that improved along with her mood if the IPT helped.

Process Phase[edit]

Clinically Significant Change[edit]

Reliable Change Index[edit]

Pick a treatment target and specify what the RCI would be for it. Discuss how you would explain to Arlene

Nomothetic Benchmarks[edit]

A, B, Cs of Jacobson definitions. General stuff about limitations would go on the main concept page. Here it is focused on the client -- what are the benchmarks they will focus on? How explained to them?

Minimum Important Difference (MID)[edit]

Note that this section is a dangler -- not originally called out in the 12 steps. Medium d as a rule of thumb from Streiner, Norman, & Cairney (2015). Could work from AUC to d to raw units as a way of estimating, since psychology hasn't done research on this yet. Might be able to back into it with studies that had CSQ and outcome data.

Client Goals & Tracking[edit]

These would be personal goals and idiographic measurement -- YTOPS, etc.

Process Measures[edit]

This would be traces such as coming to sessions, doing homework assignments. (Not sure of other specifics involved in current IPT protocols?)

Progress Measures[edit]

YTOPS again and goal setting.

Termination Planning and Maintenance[edit]

Revisit Jacobson benchmarks. Is there much chance of relapse? What things would the client need to pay attention to if they were going to nip that in the bud?


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rettew, David C.; Lynch, Alicia Doyle; Achenbach, Thomas M.; Dumenci, Levent; Ivanova, Masha Y. (2009-09-01). "Meta-analyses of agreement between diagnoses made from clinical evaluations and standardized diagnostic interviews". International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research 18 (3): 169–184. doi:10.1002/mpr.289. ISSN 1557-0657. PMID 19701924. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19701924.