The Neuropsychological Symptoms Self-Report: psychometric properties in an adolescent and young adult mental health cohort

Kelly Allott, Caroline X. Gao, Caroline Fisher, Sarah E Hetrick, Kate M Filia, Jana M Menssink, Helen E Herrman, Debra J Rickwood, Alexandra G Parker, Patrick D McGorry, Sue M Cotton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Subjective cognitive symptoms are common in young people receiving mental health treatment and are associated with poorer outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine the psychometric properties of the Neuropsychological Symptoms Self-Report (NSSR), an eight-item measure recently developed to provide a snapshot of young people’s perceived change in cognitive functioning in relation to mental health treatment. Method: The sample included 633 youth aged 12–25 years (Mage = 18.2, 66.5% female, 88.6% Australian-born) who had sought mental health treatment in primary headspace services. At three-month follow-up, participants completed the NSSR and self-report measures of depression and anxiety. Results: Excellent internal consistency was found: Cronbach’s alpha = 0.93. The NSSR had negative correlations with self-reported anxiety (r = −.33, p <.001) and depression (r = −.48, p <.001) symptoms, suggesting a link with affective symptoms, but still independence of constructs. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported a single-factor model. Item response theory (IRT) analysis suggested good model fit (homogeneity, data integrity, scalability, local independence and monotonicity) for all items. There was some evidence of measurement noninvariance (for item thresholds) by sex and age, but not diagnosis. IRT models also supported briefer six- and three-item versions of the NSSR. Conclusion: In busy clinical practice, clinicians need a rapid and reliable method for determining whether cognitive symptoms are of concern and in need of further assessment and treatment. Study findings support the NSSR as a brief, psychometrically sound measure for assessing subjective cognitive functioning in adolescents and young adults receiving mental health treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Cognitive symptoms
  • subjective
  • youth
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • psychometrics
  • unidimensional
  • classic test theory
  • item response theory

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