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Item analysis of the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale

Deborah K Reay, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The aim of the current study was to add a new dimension to the literature by analyzing the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS) scoring system at the individual item level. The item scores represent specific behaviors demonstrated by youth and can yield valuable information about treatment needs and outcomes for vulnerable youth. However, the conventional scoring system wastes potential information about youth. The CAFAS is used nationwide, and although extensive research has been done on the properties of the CAFAS, little research has been conducted at the item level. ^ The approach that was utilized in addressing this problem involved developing and then comparing three alternative scoring systems with the standard method of scoring the CAFAS to accomplish three goals: (a) determining if a different picture would emerge for youth if the CAFAS was scored differently, (b) analyzing which scoring system was able to demonstrate the most change across three time points, and (c) investigating what additional information would be gained by utilizing an alternative scoring system. ^ Seventy youth receiving services from a Midwestern behavioral health organization were included in this study. This study was based on a sample of 35 youth in foster care, and 35 youth living at home and receiving intensive outpatient services. Youth were in the broad age group of 7 to 17. The sample population was composed of 43 boys and 27 girls. Of the youth, 72.9% were European American, 21.4% were African American, and 5.7% were Hispanic. ^ The results of the study suggested that when a scoring method is utilized which captures all endorsed items of the CAFAS, the level of agreement of the measure increases with other measures of impairment. Of the three alternative scoring formats developed, one particular alternative method performed as well as the standard scoring format in detecting change across time. In conclusion, advantages of utilizing a different method of scoring the CAFAS include (a) greater utility of the measure, (b) greater sensitivity of the measure in identifying and describing impairment, and (c) greater sensitivity to associations with another measure of impairment such as the Daily Adjustment Indicator Checklist (DAIC). ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Reay, Deborah K, "Item analysis of the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3142097.