The Work and Social Adjustment Scale for Youth: A Measure for Assessing Youth Psychosocial Impairment Regardless of Mental Health Status
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A key component of delivering mental health services involves evaluating psychosocial impairments linked to mental health concerns. Youth may experience these impairments in various ways (e.g., dysfunctional family and/or peer relationships, poor school performance). Importantly, youth may display symptoms of mental illness without co-occurring psychosocial impairments, and the reverse may be true. However, all available instruments for assessing youth psychosocial impairments presume the presence of mental health concerns among those assessed. Consequently, key gaps exist in knowledge about the developmental psychopathology of psychosocial impairments; and thus how to understand impairments in the context of youth mental health. To address these issues we developed a modified version of a 5-item measure of adult psychosocial impairments (i.e., Work and Social Adjustment Scale for Youth [WSASY]) and tested its psychometric properties. A mixed clinical/community sample of adolescents and parents completed parallel versions of the WSASY, along with a multi-domain, multi-method battery of measures of adolescent internalizing and externalizing concerns, parent psychosocial functioning, adolescent-parent conflict, adolescent peer functioning, and observed social skills. On both versions of the WSASY, increased scores related to increased adolescent mental health concerns, adolescent–parent conflict, parent psychosocial dysfunction, and peer-related impairments. WSASY scores also distinguished adolescents who displayed co-occurring mental health concerns from those who did not, and related to observed social skills deficits within social interactions with unfamiliar peers. The WSASY opens doors to new areas of inquiry regarding the developmental psychopathology of impairment, including questions regarding the onset of impairments and their links to mental health.
KeywordsAdolescent Assessment Impairment Mental health Work and Social Adjustment Scale
A.D.L.R.: designed the study, assisted in executing the study, assisted with data analyses, and wrote the paper. B.A.M. and E.A.Y.: assisted with data analyses and collaborated in editing the paper. S.J.R., M.D.L., and L.M.K.: collaborated in editing the paper.
Effort by A.D.L.R. was supported, in part, by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (R324A180032). Effort by M.D.L. was supported, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH110585).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
E.A.Y. has consulted about psychological assessment with Pearson, Janssen, Lundbeck, Joe Startup Technologies, and Western Psychological Services. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Maryland at College Park’s Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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