Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners must understand a range of mental health assessment tools.



Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners must understand a range of mental health assessment tools. In as much, advanced practitioners can apply metrics to aid in the diagnosis and evaluate treatment responses (Wheeler, 2014). This discussion aims to examine the psychometric properties of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening tool and explore the efficacy of use. Additionally, this discussion will review psychopharmacological medications’ use and efficacy with Michigan Alcoholism’s Screening tool.

Psychometric Properties: Michigan Alcoholism Screening

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners must consider various psychometric tools when assessing clients with substance use disorders. The Michigan Alcoholism Screen tool is a self-reporting questionnaire consisting of twenty-fie questions to pinpoint patterns related to alcohol misuse (Santos, Strathdee, El-Bassel, Patel, Subramanian, Horyniak, & Shoptaw, 2020). The questionnaire is limited to yes and no overall weighted responses indicating a score range (Conley & Murdoch, 2014). Ultimately, higher scores signal concerns with alcohol misuse (Conley & Murdoch, 2014).

The psychometric properties of the Michigan Alcoholism Screening are critical to examine. Researchers report that the overall psychometric properties of the MAST are

solid (Conley & Murdoch, 2014). Firstly, the MAST’s internal consistency and standard error prove a high level of consistent  screening measures (Conley & Murdoch, 2014; Minnich, Erford, Bardhoshi & Atalay, 2018). Over thirty studies show consistent reports of reliable, aggregated results related to the internal consistency of the MAST (Minnich et al., 2018). Additionally, the MAST parallels with other alcoholism screening tools accurately measuring alcohol misuse, but more importantly, the MAST is identified as correspondingly with DSM-IV diagnosis related to substance use disorders (Conley & Murdoch, 2014). Moreover, experts agree that the high sensitivity of the MAST establishes the MAST as a substantially accurate screening tool to identify patterns of behavior related to alcohol misuse (Conley & Murdoch, 2014)

Conversely, the MAST demonstrates some weakness that practitioners must caution. For example, the MAST specificity is limited and, therefore, not as reliable for meaningful results across every population (Conoley, & Murdoch, 2014). Likewise, the MAST is heavily criticized for lacking concrete validity parameters (Minnich et al., 2018).

To explain, researchers highlight the MAST demands clients to have a sense of self-awareness related to drinking severity to report truthful answers in the questionnaire and valid scores (Minnich et al., 2018). In the same manner, clients must also aim not to minimize self-reported answers to throw-off lower scored results (McKenna, Treanor, O’Reilly & Donnelly, 2018; Minnich et al., 2018). In such cases, the MAST loses diagnostic validity (Minnich et al., 2018). In such cases, the MAST possibley scores lower indicating potential for either intentional or unintentional underestimated results (Minnich et al., 2018)

Michigan Alcoholism Screening: Appropriateness and Efficacy of Psychopharmacological Medications

It is critical practitioners weigh the appropriateness of the MAST screening tool in practice. Experts agree that although the MAST is a widely accepted evidence-based screening tool, clinical judgments must be applied (Minnich et al., 2018). The MAST can undoubtedly aid in developing treatment plans; however, practitioners are cautioned not to solely depend on screening tools to develop treatment planning, including psychopharmacologic medications (Minnich et al., 2018). Experts highlight that using the MAST for practitioner decision making is lower than the minimum standard for practice guidelines (Minnich et al., 2018).

Additionally, the effectiveness of the MAST to aid practitioners in psychopharmacological evaluations is hindered due to the tools target to measure lifetime use rather than phases of an individual’s misuse (Minnick et al., 2018). For example, some clients may be in a phase of recovery, and therefore psychopharmacological targets differ from acute, current misuse (Minnich et al., 2018). In as much, experts highlight best practices must be applied in conjunction with the MAST when evaluating treatment planning and response (Minnich et al., 2018)


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Cook, R. R., McCullagh, C., Marotta, P., Choksi, F., Kang, B., Allen, I., & Shoptaw, S. (2020). Psychometric properties of measures of substance use: a systematic review and meta-analysis of reliability, validity and diagnostic test accuracy. BMC Medical Research Methodology20(1), 106.

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