Neuropsychological testing and ACC

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

’s methods are again under the spotlight after it confirmed using “neuropsychological and psychological assessments” to help decide if claimants were being straightforward.

That came to light yesterday after claims it uses “lie detector tests” to see if claimants are telling the truth.

Claimant Margaret Read told Radio New Zealand that ACC would not believe her statements of brain and spinal injuries, nor evidence from specialists, and applied a lie detector test.

An ACC spokeswoman declined to comment on an individual case, but said the no-fault insurer did not use lie detector tests.

Asked if any of its processes could be interpreted as a lie detector test, she said that was subjective. “What seems to be being referred to is the use of measures in neuropsychological and psychological assessments to provide some indication as to whether the client is presenting in a straightforward manner; that is, not under- or over-reporting their symptoms,” she said.

“Neuropsychological assessments administer tests which look at the client’s cognitive functioning (thinking functions such as language, attention, speed of thinking, memory, flexibility in thinking and problem solving skills).”

They were used to help indicate whether “clients are either minimising or exaggerating their emotional symptoms such as anxiety and depressive symptoms”. This was also to determine whether the assessment results truly reflected a client’s current emotional functioning.

When a client displayed evidence of a lack of effort, under-reporting or exaggeration of symptoms, ACC would try to determine why “and then provide the appropriate help the client needs to progress in their rehabilitation”.

Labour ACC spokesman Andrew Little said he was “gob-smacked” by the practice, which was evidence of the distrust ACC had for claimants. “It sounds like lie-detecting to me.”

I’m sorry but this is getting rather hysterical. This happens to be an area I know a wee bit about as I am related to a neuropsychologist. Neuropsychological assessments of head injured ACC clients has been happening since at least the 1980s. This is nothing new or unusual.

The assessments are not lie detector tests. They test damage and capacity of cognitive ability.

Of course the tests are designed to measure actual ability and damage, and can detect if people are exaggerating damage. That is why you get expert medical assessments. But that is not the primary purpose of the test, which is to assess capacity. It is like saying seeing a general practitioner is a lie detector test about your back pain.

Again these tests have been done for several decades, as far as I know.

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