You are here:

The Value of Item Response Theory in Clinical Assessment: A Review

Assessment Volume 18, Number 3, ISSN 1073-1911


Item response theory (IRT) and related latent variable models represent modern psychometric theory, the successor to classical test theory in psychological assessment. Although IRT has become prevalent in the measurement of ability and achievement, its contributions to clinical domains have been less extensive. Applications of IRT to clinical assessment are reviewed to appraise its current and potential value. Benefits of IRT include comprehensive analyses and reduction of measurement error, creation of computer adaptive tests, meaningful scaling of latent variables, objective calibration and equating, evaluation of test and item bias, greater accuracy in the assessment of change due to therapeutic intervention, and evaluation of model and person fit. The theory may soon reinvent the manner in which tests are selected, developed, and scored. Although challenges remain to the widespread implementation of IRT, its application to clinical assessment holds great promise. Recommendations for research, test development, and clinical practice are provided. (Contains 5 figures.)


Thomas, M.L. (2011). The Value of Item Response Theory in Clinical Assessment: A Review. Assessment, 18(3), 291-307. Retrieved August 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 19, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.