Open Access Open Badges Research article

A proof of principle for using adaptive testing in routine Outcome Monitoring: the efficiency of the Mood and Anxiety Symptoms Questionnaire -Anhedonic Depression CAT

Niels Smits1*, Frans G Zitman23, Pim Cuijpers1, Margien E den Hollander-Gijsman2 and Ingrid VE Carlier2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

3 Mental Health Institution Rivierduinen, Leiden, The Netherlands

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2012, 12:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-4

Published: 10 January 2012



In Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) there is a high demand for short assessments. Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) is a promising method for efficient assessment. In this article, the efficiency of a CAT version of the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire, - Anhedonic Depression scale (MASQ-AD) for use in ROM was scrutinized in a simulation study.


The responses of a large sample of patients (N = 3,597) obtained through ROM were used. The psychometric evaluation showed that the items met the requirements for CAT. In the simulations, CATs with several measurement precision requirements were run on the item responses as if they had been collected adaptively.


CATs employing only a small number of items gave results which, both in terms of depression measurement and criterion validity, were only marginally different from the results of a full MASQ-AD assessment.


It was concluded that CAT improved the efficiency of the MASQ-AD questionnaire very much. The strengths and limitations of the application of CAT in ROM are discussed.