Assessment Instruments Review




Instrument assessment is common practice in the field of psychology to aid in understanding the significance of each instrument. The name of the instrument to be assessed in this document is URICA (University of Rhode Island Change Assessment Scale.

Brief Description

URICA (University of Rhode Island Change Assessment Scale) is a test used to assess readiness for change when one needs to start an addiction treatment. The test is designed to be a self-report measure of motivation for change. It reveals information that can be used to guide the whole treatment process for a person. URICA has 32 items that have four subscales, which measure them major stages of change namely: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Action and Maintenance (Callaghan, Moore, Jungerman, Vilela, & Budney, 2008). Another version of the test with 24 questions has also been developed.

URICA responses are measured using Likert Scale that has 5 points. The score scale ranges from 1 to 5 and 1 means a strong disagreement and 5 means a strong agreement. Furthermore, the four scales can be combined arithmetically. C + A + M – PC produces a score that is used to check if an individual is ready upon entering a treatment program (O’Neal, 2007). The result produced by the arithmetic combination of the four subscales has been termed a second order Readiness for Change Score. The use of URICA is highly dependent on the client’s feeling at the time of the test. It is upon the therapist to interpret all the answers the answers give in the questionnaire. The answers are used to evaluate and determine the most appropriate level of treatment based on the stage of the addiction.

Target Population

The primary target population of the URICA assessment tool is adults. URICA can be a significant tool in the treatment and research on the general assessment of the clinical process and the motivation of an individual in respect to behavior modification.

URICA Test Administration

URICA test has a number of administrative issues that are used to make the test relevant effective. The following presents essential components of the URICA test. It is necessary to note that the test is self-administered. It does not need one to complete any training prior to administration of the test.

Number of Items: 24 or 32

Subscales: 32 version has four subscales with each subscale having eight items.

Format: The test is self-administered. It requires the use of a pencil and paper.

Time: It ranges between 5 and 10 minutes.

Scoring Information

This section reviews the rules of scoring in a URICA test. The test should be taken for five to ten minutes in order to get a conclusive score. The staff members achieve scoring. It does not have any form of computer scoring or interpretation. The therapist who is in charge interprets all the answers. URICA has norms, which can also be normed on the subgroups (Donovan, n.d.). It applies to adults who are being treated for alcohol addiction. It is specific to outpatients.

Normative Group

It can be applied to many groups to test motivation for behavior change. The normative group is adults, who are outpatients, being treated for alcohol addiction.

Psychometric Properties

Research has been done to measure the different psychometric properties of the URICA. The research measured internal reliability, factorial, concurrent and convergent reliability. It has proven useful in measuring the different stages of offence in male prisoners. The reliability tests that have been performed revealed reliability in terms of consistency. The principal measures of validity that have been produced by studies are based on content, construct and criterion applied. The criterion for URICA is concurrent, predictive and postdictive in nature (Callaghan, Moore, Jungerman, Vilela, & Budney, 2008).

URICA has been used in many clinical settings to assess the readiness of patients prior to the commencement of addiction treatment. The validity of this assessment stems from the point that it has been used in very many treatments and research to measure the four stages of change.

Clinical Recommendations

URICA has been a significant assessment tool in clinical settings. It has been used to assess the motivation of an individual to modify behavior based on the four stages of changes. Cluster analyses performed on adults, entering an alcohol addiction treatment, produced profiles with five stages. The five stages in alcohol addiction treatment are precontemplation, Ambivalent, Participation, Uninvolved and Contemplation. URICA provides a second factor that gives a readiness score that can be important at pretreatment (O’Neal, 2007).

Clinicians can employ the URICA assessment tool to evaluation motivational levels of an individual and use the resulting information to decide on the appropriate treatment program. It helps increase the chances of success in treatment of addiction problems that require behavior change. The subscales provided in the URICA are necessary for checking for change in attitudes at the different stages of change. In effect, appropriate action can be taken to ensure the treatment remains effective.


Researchers have cautioned that the reliability of URICA is only significant in educational programs. It seems URICA has not been very adequate in the assessment of treatment programs for offenders at intake. The test is useful in individuals who can be found within the four stages of change.

Clinicians should be cautious when using the URICA index to check motivation for behavior change and the recovery process (Taylor, 2004). URICA should be complemented by other methods to measure the recovery process in situations involving recovery from substances abuse.

Personal Opinion

Personally, I think the URICA is an adequate measure of motivation in clinical settings. Research has shown that URICA test is effective in measuring motivation for change in clinical situations. It has proven effective in the treatment of addiction problems related to alcohol and marijuana. At the same time, I believe the test is not consistent in all situations. It can be erratic in the assessment of behavior change in some people. In general, it an effective tool that has proven useful in determining the level of motivation for behavior change.


Callaghan, R., Moore, L. T., Jungerman, F., Vilela, F., & Budney, A. (2008). Recovery and URICA stage-of-change scores in three marijuana treatment studies. Journal of Substance of Abuse, 35(4), 419-26.

Donovan, D. M. (n.d.). Assessment to Aid in the Treatment Planning Process. Retrieved from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

O’Neal, P. W. (2007). Motivation of health behavior. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Polaschek, D. L., Anstiss, B., & Wilson, M. (2010). The assessment of offending-related stage of change in offenders: psychometric validation of the URICA with male prisoners. Psychology, Crime & Law, 16(4), 305-325.

Taylor, S. (2004). Advances in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: cognitive-behavioral perspectives. New York: Springer Pub.

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