I’ve finally had a chance to use the MMPI-2-RF on enough occasions to render a tentative verdict: it is as effective as the MMPI-2, and in some ways (primarily length), it’s better. This may be serious “shoptalk” to those of you unfamiliar with psychological testing, but for those of us who use tests regularly, this “restructuring” is important, as the MMPI-2 may be the single most important psychological test (along with the WAIS) used today. When there is a change to something as big as the MMPI-2, you’d better pay attention if you are in the business of evaluations.
Briefly, then, I’ll point out the main benefit to the restructured format - time. Shortened by more than two hundred questions, the test doesn’t take nearly as long to administer. This allows for the examinee to complete the test without the fatigue and boredom that often accompanies the completion of the longer test. This translates into a test that received improved attention to the responses (at least in some cases), otherwise known as a more valid response (the test measured what it purported to measure). Now, working in forensics, I don’t hold any illusions; I know most of my administrations will come back invalid, in my case due to an over-reporting of symptoms. Even so, the shortened administration time is valuable, in that I can then work with the individual on other tasks with the freed up time.
Another feature I like with this format is a increased focus on the somatic presentation of the examinee, including the validity of somatic complaints. This is particularly helpful in a correctional setting, where many inmates pine for limited resources - accurate assessment of somatic concerns can help save money, as well as allow for resources to be directed to those most in need. Other minor improvements, such as certain re-categorizations, are also beneficial.
Conversely, I've read some of the criticisms of the new structure (primarily the switch from the old clinical scales to the new RC scales - more shop talk), and while the concerns are reasonable (1) the new test focuses more on overt and/or different pathology than clinical/personality presentation, 2) though the new scales are "more pure" - no item overlap - this doesn't jive with clients, who often have multiple, overlapping problems, and 3) debates about the complexity of the new scales versus the old in assessing the subtleties such as defense mechanisms, etc.), I don't think they warrant too much worry, as least in my case (selfish me!). For the time being, clinician's can use either test, and as long as both tests continue to receive ongoing examination and research, they should both be effective tools for assessment.
Now, the research will have to come out and continue support the initial reports of the viability of the new instrument, above and beyond the initial efforts (which appear significant). As the items are based on the items from the MMPI-2, this shouldn’t be much of a problem, but one needs to establish the validity and reliability anyway. I recently read this article, published in Psychological Assessments (full text available by purchase only), which indicated the validity of the new L and K scales on the MMPI-2-RF are effective in sorting out under-reporting of symptoms (which is a necessary function in numerous contexts, including custody evaluations, assessment for need for treatment, etc.) Obviously there is much more to the article than this, but that isn't the primary point of this post. As the research on the various scales continues to come out, I’ll try to post links, if not summaries.