In practical terms, the sine qua non of the modes, methods, devices, strategies, and theories of clinical assessment is their contribution to treatment outcome. The importance of this contribution has often been noted, but under many different labels and rationales. The resultant conceptual confusion has considerably restricted the visibility and frequency of research in this critical area. In this article we propose a name for the impact of assessment on treatment outcome: the "treatment utility of assessment." Some of the questions that can be asked about the treatment utility of assessment are described, and methods appropriate for asking them are examined. Finally, the implications of this kind of utility for other approaches to evaluating assessment quality are analyzed.
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