Item response theory and clinical measurement

Steven P. Reise, Niels G. Waller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

327 Scopus citations


In this review, we examine studies that use item response theory (IRT) to explore the psychometric properties of clinical measures. Next, we consider how IRT has been used in clinical research for: scale linking, computerized adaptive testing, and differential item functioning analysis. Finally, we consider the scale properties of IRT trait scores. We conclude that there are notable differences between cognitive and clinical measures that have relevance for IRT modeling. Future research should be directed toward a better understanding of the metric of the latent trait and the psychological processes that lead to individual differences in item response behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-48
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Clinical Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Computerized adaptive testing
  • Differential item functioning
  • Latent trait metric
  • Linking scales
  • Quasi-trait
  • Scale information curve


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