Validity of affect measurements in evaluating symptom reporting in athletes

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 Jan;


Ramanathan, D. M., A. R. Rabinowitz, F. H. Barwick and P. A. Arnett.



Identifying factors that improve the assessment of athletes’ psychological functioning is imperative to make proper return-to-play decisions following concussion. Prior research indicates that an individual’s affect is related to symptom reporting. The present study examines two novel methods of affect assessment in college athletes at baseline participating in a sports-concussion management program. A total of 256 athletes completed a neuropsychological baseline battery with measurements of psychological symptoms (BDI-Fast Screen, Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, and ImPact Total Symptom Score) and a measure of affective memory bias (the Affective Verbal Learning Test; AVLT). Examiners completed an observation-based rating of affect. Multivariate analysis of variance and chi2 analyses were conducted to examine the effect of affect on symptom reports. Examiners’ Affect Ratings were predictive of broad symptom reporting, while the performance based index of affect (Affective Verbal Learning Test, AVLT) was more predictive of depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that performance on the AVLT may be a useful indicator of self-reported depression in a collegiate athlete sample. Additionally, these results demonstrate that examiners’ behavioral assessments of affect are important in the assessment of psychological functioning in athletes. Continued work should focus on developing objective measures that are sensitive and valid for the evaluation of outcomes from concussion.

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