The Meanings and Measurement of Clinical Significance

The Meanings and Measurement of Clinical Significance

Alan E. Kazdin
Yale University

The previous articles in this special section make the case for the importance of evaluating the clinical
significance of therapeutic change, present key measures and innovative ways in which they are applied,
and more generally provide important guidelines for evaluating therapeutic change. Fundamental issues
raised by the concept of clinical significance and the methods discussed in the previous articles serve as
the basis of the present comments. Salient among these issues are ambiguities regarding the meaning of
current measures of clinical significance, the importance of relating assessment of clinical significance
to the goals of therapy, and evaluation of the construct(s) that clinical significance reflects. Research
directions that are discussed include developing a typology of therapy goals, evaluating cutoff scores and
thresholds for clinical significance, and attending to social as well as clinical impact of treatment.

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