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12-09-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2019

The Work and Social Adjustment Scale for Youth: A Measure for Assessing Youth Psychosocial Impairment Regardless of Mental Health Status

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2019
Andres De Los Reyes, Bridget A. Makol, Sarah J. Racz, Eric A. Youngstrom, Matthew D. Lerner, Lauren M. Keeley


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.

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