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Now everyone can measure attention

Date:19 October 2020
Author:Yvonne Groen
Open Research Award case study
Open Research Award case study

Everyone knows what attention is, said William James 150 years ago. But nowadays psychologists are still struggling to reliably assess attention, especially impairments of attention. The experience of attention is very personal and what is regarded normal differs strongly between people. Therefore, a large norm group is necessary to pinpoint impairments of attention.

In a diptych of open access articles in ‘Applied Neuropsychology: Adult’ we present a new attention scale and a large norm group for the measurement of attention (and it’s impairments) in everyday life: the Everyday Life Attention Scale (ELAS).

The first article presents the psychometric characteristics of the ELAS, based on a large healthy group (n = 1206) and a group of patients with (n = 80) and without (n = 56) an attention disorder. Important outcomes of the study are that attention in everyday life needs to be measured per situation (and not per attentional function or as a single score). With its situation-specific approach, the ELAS covers recommendations for the assessment of attention based on decades of research in Clinical Neuropsychology, that have not been met by other instruments. To foster its use in clinical practice, the ELAS has been made freely available to everyone in the appendix of the article.

The second article calculates the norm scores of a large sample (n = 1874) of Dutch speaking participants. Having measured the observed score on the ELAS from a participant, the regression formulas in this article allow clinicians to calculate the norm scores (Z- and P-scores) compared to participants of similar age, sex and educational level of the participant. By this, it can be objectified how impaired an individual is in everyday life attention and which everyday situations are most difficult to deal with. The regression formulas as well as a hypothetical example are freely available in the appendix of the article. In addition, we created an automated scoring tool in Excel, that can be freely requested from the authors for use in research or clinical practice.

Offering the ELAS in open access articles fosters it’s use in clinical practice and it’s further validation in international research. The ELAS transfers theoretical knowledge from Clinical Neuropsychology to the applied and research field.

Everyone knows what attention is, but to reliable measure attention everyone can use the ELAS.

What we offer freely available to everyone being interested:

  • Two open-access articles, containing data of > 2000 healthy participants, as well patient data of > 100 individuals
  • A case presentation using the regression based formulas, in order to facilitate their use for students, academics, and health care professionals
  • A professionally developed Excel scoring sheet, which provides automated scoring and graphic norm data presentation. This saves time for the user, decreases error likelihood when applying formulas manually, and facilitates their use also for people not being familiar with applying formulas.

References and links

  1. Groen, Y., Fuermaier, A.B.M., Tucha, L., Weisbrod, M., Aschenbrenner, S., & Tucha, O. (2019). A situation-specific approach to measure attention in adults with ADHD: The everyday life attention scale (ELAS). Applied Neuropsychology: Adult. 26(5), 411-440. doi:10.1080/23279095.2018.1437730
  2. Fuermaier, A.B.M., Groen, Y., Tucha, L., Weisbrod, M., Aschenbrenner, S., & Tucha, O. (2019). The Everyday Life Attention Scale (ELAS): Normative data of n = 1874
    Dutch participants. Applied Neuropsychology: Adult. doi: 10.1080/23279095.2019.1605994

About the author

Yvonne Groen
Yvonne Groen is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences / Heymans Institute. She wrote this article together with Anselm Fuermaier, Lara Tucha and Oliver Tucha.
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