The Evidence Portal

Personalised assessment or screening

Flexible activity

In this activity, program facilitators undertake a preliminary screening or assessment of the program participants to capture information relevant to the program’s targets and outcomes. This can then inform particular strategies for engaging with, and delivering the program to, the participants.

Preliminary screening or personalised assessment can be an important precursor to tailoring program components to the needs and circumstances of the young people. It allows for baseline information to be canvassed and analysed, and for behavioural change interventions to be developed and delivered with the idiosyncratic needs of the program participants in mind. It also offers the program facilitators a baseline measure from which to monitor and track behavioural changes over time.

How can it be implemented?

Screening and assessment should be considered with the goals of the program in mind. For example, where the goal of the program is to build self-efficacy and assertiveness skills, a screening or assessment measure might accrue information about circumstances in which the young person does or does not feel confident and capable.

Preliminary screening or personalised assessment can be administered in a number of ways.

Questionnaires or screening tools:

  • Established questionnaires or screening tools can be identified and used to capture information relevant to the program
  • Alternatively, screening tools or questionnaires can be developed by program facilitators to capture information relevant to the program
  • These questionnaires or screening tools may ask questions critical to program outcomes such as current tobacco use, where the program aims to encourage tobacco abstinence.

In-person personalised assessment:

  • Personalised assessments may be undertaken in a one-on-one session with a program facilitator.
  • These sessions may seek to ascertain from the young person: current problem or risky behaviours, triggers for maladaptive emotional responses, strategies for coping with difficult situations etc.
  • Information garnered from this session may then inform the content and structure of a behavioural change intervention.

Online and phone delivery:

  • Personalised assessments or screening can be delivered online, via web platforms or via text messaging or phone calls.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • 14-18 year-old primary care patients with no major mental health disturbance
  • Smokers aged 19-29 years
  • Young people aged 16-25 who have used cannabis at least once and/or alcohol above national drinking guidelines in the past 4 weeks, and have a Kessler Psychological Distress Scale score of >/= to 17 in the past 4 weeks
  • Girls aged 12-24 with high rates of problem behaviours at school, poor academic performance and truancy
  • Young adults aged 18-24 attending adult education centres

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In Motivational Interviewing integrated with Social Network Counselling (MI/SN), the program facilitators assess and review the young person’s social network to ascertain the number of substance users, risky and prosocial activities, influences to use substances, and support and encouragement associated with each person named within the teen’s network. This then informs a motivational interviewing component that encourages the young person to reflect on their social network and consider making modifications that are consistent with healthy life choices.
  • The Motivational Interviewing via Co-Active Life Coaching (MI-via-CALC) program is a coaching program consisting of brief phone or Skype sessions with a certified coach. To foster an alliance between coach and participant, the coach asks thought-provoking, open-ended questions and is genuinely curious about the participant.
  • In Quik Fix, a brief assessment of program participants precedes a series of behavioural change program components including a: personalised assessment feedback, psychoeducation, motivational interviewing, and coping skills training component.
  • In the REAL Girls program, 20 percent of the program was devoted to addressing concerns identified by the participants during a preliminary assessment.
  • In No program name: web-based tailored intervention for reducing cannabis use, user profiles were generated based on a preliminary assessment that measured frequency of cannabis use in the past month/year and intention to abstain in the coming month. Each profile corresponded to an intervention sequence. This preliminary assessment was delivered via a brief questionnaire that assessed behaviour and cognitive dimensions associated with cannabis use.

What else should I consider?

If online or video interventions are going to be implemented, service providers and participants will require access to devices and/or software to view and engage with the content.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

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