Beyond Percent Correct: Measuring Change in Individual Picture Naming Ability

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2022 Jan 12;65(1):215-237. doi: 10.1044/2021_JSLHR-20-00205. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Purpose: Meaningful changes in picture naming responses may be obscured when measuring accuracy instead of quality. A statistic that incorporates information about the severity and nature of impairments may be more sensitive to the effects of treatment.

Method: We analyzed data from repeated administrations of a naming test to 72 participants with stroke aphasia in a clinical trial for anomia therapy. Participants were divided into two groups for analysis to demonstrate replicability. We assessed reliability among response type scores from five raters. We then derived four summary statistics of naming ability and their changes over time for each participant: (a) the standard accuracy measure, (b) an accuracy measure adjusted for item difficulty, (c) an accuracy measure adjusted for item difficulty for specific response types, and (d) a distance measure adjusted for item difficulty for specific response types. While accuracy measures address the likelihood of a correct response, the distance measure reflects that different response types range in their similarity to the target. Model fit was assessed. The frequency of significant improvements and the average magnitude of improvements for each summary statistic were compared between treatment groups and a control group. Effect sizes for each model-based statistic were compared with the effect size for the standard accuracy measure.

Results: Interrater and intrarater reliability were near perfect, on average, though compromised somewhat by phonological-level errors. The effects of treatment were more evident, in terms of both frequency and magnitude, when using the distance measure versus the other accuracy statistics.

Conclusions: Consideration of item difficulty and response types revealed additional effects of treatment on naming scores beyond those observed for the standard accuracy measure. The results support theories that assume naming ability is decomposable into subabilities rather than being monolithic, suggesting new opportunities for measuring treatment outcomes.

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