Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the reasoning used by clinicians when deciding whether errors observed during the performance of everyday activities were made by clients with acquired brain injury (ABI) or by healthy controls.
Methods: Ninety clinicians observed 27 short video clips of subjects (ABI, healthy controls), carrying out the Baycrest Multiple Errands Test. On the basis of their observations, they classified subjects into either an ABI or healthy control group and specified their reasons. Their reasoning was analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: The majority of the coded material explaining the reasoning behind correct attributions of performance errors to people with ABI related to 3 general themes: (1) inefficient executive functioning, (2) task-related difficulty, and (3) prediction of impact on independence in everyday activities. Clinicians were most successful at identifying neurological subjects when subjects either omitted tasks or took an excessive amount of time to complete the test.
Conclusions: Correctly interpreting performance errors in real-world tests relies on clinicians' observational and clinical reasoning skills combined with their theoretical knowledge of constructs underlying the evaluation. Some clinical signs bear more weight than others when clinicians interpret performance errors to determine whether the behavior is pathological.