Children with severe TBI easily pass the MSVT but adults with mild TBI fail: How can that be?

Carone, D. (2008) Children with moderate/severe brain damage/dysfunction outperform adults with mild to no brain damage on the Medical Symptom Validity Test. Brain Injury, 22, 12, 960-971. 


Primary objective:This study sought independent confirmation that the English computerized Medical Symptom Validity Test can be easily passed by children with moderate-to-severe brain injury/dysfunction (e.g. traumatic brain injury, stroke) and/or developmental disabilities. In addition, it was hypothesized that a higher percentage of such children would pass the MSVT compared to adults with mild traumatic brain injury or head injury (MTBI/HI) and would rate the task as easier.< Methods:Thirty-eight children and 67 adults were administered the MSVT during an outpatient neuropsychological evaluation.

Results: Two children (5%) failed the MSVT, whereas 14 (21%) of adults failed. Children performed significantly better on the MSVT and rated it as significantly easier compared to adults who failed the MSVT. There were no such differences when children were compared to adults who passed the MSVT.

Conclusions: Findings independently validate the use of the MSVT with children and demonstrate symptom exaggeration in a sub-set of adult MTBI/HI patients.

Keywords: Effort testing, validity testing, mild traumatic brain injury, children, malingering