The Canadian Objective Assessment of Life Skills (COALS): A new measure of functional competence in schizophrenia
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This study examined the reliability and validity of a new performance-based measure of functional competence for individuals with serious mental illness, the Canadian Objective Assessment of Life Skills (COALS). The COALS assesses both routinized procedural knowledge routines (PKR) and executive operations (EXO) in order to capture functional outcome variance. The COALS was administered to 101 outpatients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and 80 non-psychiatric controls. One month later, 95 patients and 63 controls completed a follow-up assessment. Measures of psychopathology, neurocognition, functionality and community adjustment were also administered. Results indicated that the COALS summary scores had good test-retest reliability for patient data. Further, the COALS correlated with other measures of functionality and with negative symptoms, but was independent of positive symptoms, demonstrating concurrent and discriminant validity. The overall COALS summary score added incremental validity to the prediction of community independence over and above the contribution of symptoms, intellectual ability and neurocognitive performance. Inclusion of EXO scores provided incremental validity not available with PKR scores alone. The COALS increases the number of functional competence instruments and offers the advantage of specific validity while incorporating important distinctions in cognitive performance.
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