Psychometric Evaluation of the Symptoms and Functioning Severity Scale (SFSS) Short Forms with Out-of-Home Care Youth

Thomas J. Gross, Kristin Duppong Hurley, Matthew C. Lambert, Michael H. Epstein, Amy L. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is a need for brief progress monitoring measures of behavioral and emotional symptoms for youth in out-of-home care. The Symptoms and Functioning Severity Scale (SFSS; Bickman et al. in Manual of the peabody treatment progress battery. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, 2010) is one measure that has clinician and youth short forms (SFSS-SFs); however, the psychometric soundness of the SFSS-SFs with youth in out-of-home care has yet to be examined. Objective: The objective was to determine if the psychometric characteristics of the clinician and youth SFSS-SFs are viable for use in out-of-home care programs. Methods: The participants included 143 youth receiving residential treatment and 52 direct care residential staff. The current study assessed internal consistency and alternate forms reliability for SFSS-SFs for youth in a residential care setting. Further, a binary classification test was completed to determine if the SFSS-SFs similarly classified youth as the SFSS full version for low- and elevated-severity. Results: The internal consistency for the clinician and youth SFSS-SFs was adequate (α = .75–.82) as was the parallel forms reliability (r = .85–.97). The sensitivity (0.80–0.95), specificity (0.88–0.97), and overall accuracy (0.89–0.93) for differentiating low and elevated symptom severity was acceptable. Conclusions: The clinician and youth SFSS-SFs have acceptable psychometrics and may be beneficial for progress monitoring; however, more research is needed to assess their sensitivity to change over time in out-of-home programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral and emotional assessment
  • Brief assessment
  • Out-of-home care
  • Progress monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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