Understanding the ecological validity of neuropsychological testing using an ethnographic approach

Deborah Gioia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Neurocognitive impairment is a defining and disabling feature of schizophrenia and other physical disorders. Most of our understanding about neurocognitive deficits comes from laboratory-based testing in research protocols. There has been little research using direct behavioral community observation over a prolonged period to understand the association of daily functioning with cognitive performance.The purpose of this study was to develop an observational method that could be replicated by researchers interested in viewing cognitive deficits in vivo, and then comparing this data to laboratory measures to affirm the ecological validity of those measures.The eight-step method explained here was developed from the targeted ethnographic study of 10 persons with schizophrenia. Obtaining real world context with this method will help to increase the generalizability of effective cognitive treatments, create improved interventions for this population, and bring into greater relief the coping and compensatory strategies already used by individuals to complete daily tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1495-1503
Number of pages9
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnography
  • Mental health and illness
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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