Writing effective reports allows neuropsychologists to share important insights and recommendations gleaned from a neuropsychological evaluation. Although the format and length of reports may differ depending on the referral source and practice setting, there are common elements in every neuropsychological report. In this episode, we speak to Jacobus Donders, Ph.D., ABPP (CN, RP), about these common elements and how to increase the effectiveness of our written communication.
A pdf of the transcript for this episode is available here.
Topics Covered (with time stamps)
Interview with Jacobus
- General purpose of a neuropsychological report? (2:05)
- What spurred Dr. Donders’ interest in informing the field about neuropsychological report writing? (3:12)
- Choosing what kind of information and level of detail should be included in a report (6:56)
- The importance of audience/referral source in writing neuropsychological reports (9:20)
- Writing reports that satisfy your patients and their families (12:12)
- What is the length and organizational schema of Dr. Donders’ typical inpatient and outpatient reports? (15:10)
- How to aid your patient’s medical team by writing an adequately comprehensive background section (17:55)
- Report writing for trainees (22:42)
- How to write for your audience and the context of the referral question (26:03)
- How to write: Reason for referral, patient identifying information (30:46)
- How to write: Clinical interview, collateral interview, medical record review (31:54)
- How do you manage contradictory information in the report background? (35:24)
- When to include verbatim quotations from the medical record (37:13)
- Choosing to leave out information from the medical record summary (39:42)
- Inverted Pyramid writing (45:09)
- How to write: Behavioral observations (47:06)
- How to write: Test results (49:27)
- How to write: Summary and recommendations (52:15)
- Should you elaborate on your recommendations? (56:35)
- Where the summary and recommendations should be placed in the report (60:26)
- Reasonable turn-around time for typical clinical report and feedback (60:55)
- Language and jargon use in report writing (63:12)
- Time and planning required to write a neuropsychological report (64:45)
- What role does your report play in the feedback session? (67:50)
- Building time for feedback into your testing day (69:04)
- Forensic report writing (70:38)
- Rehabilitation psychology board certification (72:45)
- If you could improve one thing about the field of neuropsychology, what would it be? (74:40)
- What is one bit of advice you wish someone told you when you were training, or that someone did tell you that really made a difference? (76:12)
- What steps can we take to ensure that we are providing cutting edge scientific and clinical services for the next 10, 20, and 30 years? (77:47)
Jacobus Donders, PhD, ABPP (CN, RP), is the Chief Psychologist at the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology, Pediatric Clinical Neuropsychology, and Rehabilitation Psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association as well as the National Academy of Neuropsychology. He is an active clinical practitioner with a primary clinical interest in predicting outcome post brain injury. Dr. Donders has also served on multiple editorial and executive boards, has published more than 100 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, and has edited and co-edited several books, including Neuropsychological Report Writing.
Donders, J. (Ed.). (2016). Neuropsychological report writing. Guilford Publications.
Donders, J. (1999). Pediatric neuropsychological reports: Do they really have to be so long? Child Neuropsychology, 5(1), 70-78.
Donders, J. (2001). A survey of report writing by neuropsychologists, I: General characteristics and content. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 15(2), 137-149.
Donders, J. (2001). A survey of report writing by neuropsychologists, II: Test data, report format, and document length. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 15(2), 150-161.
Donders, J. (2019). The incremental value of neuropsychological assessment: a critical review. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 1-32.