The Assessment and Impact of Careless Responding in Routine Outcome Monitoring within Mental Health Care

Judith M. Conijn*, Gunhild Franz, Wilco H.M. Emons, Edwin de Beurs, Ingrid V.E. Carlier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Careless responding by mental health patients on self-report assessments is rarely investigated in routine care despite the potential for serious consequences such as faulty clinical decisions. We investigated validity indices most appropriate for detecting careless responding in routine outcome monitoring (ROM) in mental health-care. First, we reviewed indices proposed in previous research for their suitability in ROM. Next, we evaluated six selected indices using data of the Brief Symptom Inventory and the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire from 3,483 outpatients. Simulations showed that for typical ROM scales the Lmax index, Mahalanobis distance, and inter-item standard deviation may be too strongly confounded with the latent trait value to compare careless responding across patients with different symptom severity. Application of two different classification methods to the validity indices did not converge in similar prevalence estimates of careless responding. Finally, results suggest that careless responding does not have a substantial biasing effect on scale-score statistics. We recommend the lpz person-fit index to screen for random careless responding in large ROM data sets. However, additional research should further investigate methods for detecting repetitive responding in typical ROM data and assess whether there are specific circumstances in which simpler validity statistics or direct screening methods perform similarly as the lpz index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-611
Number of pages19
JournalMultivariate Behavioral Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Careless responding
  • mental health care
  • person-fit indices
  • routine outcome monitoring
  • validity indices


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