Probation Referral Outcome (PRO)

8 PRO Scales (Measures)
1. Truthfulness   5. Depression
2. Violence   6. Anxiety
3. Alcohol   7. Self-Esteem
4. Drugs   8. Stress Mgmt.

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Probation Referral Outcome (PRO)
PRO users and applications include probation departments and courts
The Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) is a treatment effectiveness outcome test that is administered to probationers. Some probation officers administer the PRO when they decide to refer the probationer for treatment (counseling or psychotherapy). Typically, the test is given when a probationer is admitted into treatment, and before treatment has begun - referred to as a pre-test. Then again, just after treatment has been completed. This second, testing is called the posttest (2nd test), which generates the "Comparison Report."

The selection and composition of the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) scales (measures) is important, because they represent the areas of inquiry that measure treatment effects, outcome, or change. The eight (8), Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) scales (measures) are:

Probation Referral Outcome (PRO)

  1. Truthfulness Scale 5. Depression Scale
  2. Violence Scale 6. Anxiety Scale
  3. Alcohol Scale 7. Self-Esteem Scale
  4. Drugs Scale 8. Stress Mgmt.

These scales represent common probationer problems and concerns.

Historically, when probationers (clients) completed prescribed intervention, counseling, and treatment programs, they were assumed to be cured, rehabilitated, and made well. Today, these assumptions are being challenged, because of no problem abatement, relapse, and recidivism. Some probationers, for whatever reason, do not benefit or improve after intervention, counseling, or treatment (hereinafter referred to, collectively, as treatment).

Distinguishing between probationers who benefit from treatment and those who do not, is a challenging task. Earlier approaches found that treatment staff opinions can be subjective and diverse (Broome, Flynn, Knight & Simpson, 2007). And, any objective approach, to identifying positive or negative treatment effects, is subject to theoretical and methodological opinions and viewpoints. To acknowledge, assuage, and answer many of these questions, the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) rationale is summarized.

Pretest/posttest baseline methodology is the foundation upon which the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) is based. The PRO is administered prior to, or upon treatment program intake. This test administration is called the pretest or pre-treatment test. Then, the same test is administered again, upon treatment completion, and this is called the posttest. The pretest serves as the baseline, or test against which the posttest is compared.

A concern, with any assessment instrument or test, is determining whether the respondent (probationer, client) was truthful while being tested. Treatment outcome (effectiveness or change) assessments are no exception. As noted, by Kingi & Hauora (2003), the reliability of probationer answers are often questioned. That being said, an important component of the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) is its built-in, Truthfulness Scale. Probationers often attempt to minimize their problems, or portray themselves in an overly favorable light, by providing inaccurate reponses to particular questions designed to identify truthfulness. When this occures excessively, at a 90th percentile or higher, the Truthfulness scale will nullify the results of the test, At these times, the usual, pretest or posttest report is replaced, with a one page explanation of why this situation makes pretest/posttest scale comparisons not possible. Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) pretest/posttest comparisons must have accurate; this requires the Truthfulness Scale scores are at or below the 89th percentile.

Inclusion of other Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) scales was clear cut. The eight (8) PRO scales assess common problems and disorders that are, often, involved in treatment settings. In the event that a probationer's treatment plan does not include any of the PROs eight scales, or areas of inquiry, omitted problems/disorders would likely not be treated (Bach & McCracken, 2006). For these reasons, it is recommended that the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) be included in treatment program intake screening. Then, decisions can be made about including elevated, (70 to 89th percentile) and severely elevated, (90 to 100th percentile) pretest scale scores, or the problems/disorders they represent in the patient's treatment plan. A treatment plan exclusion will be noted in the "comments and recommendations" section, in Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) reports. Exceptions to the treatment plan inclusion, will be noted in the "comments and recommendations" section in both the pretest and posttest reports. Such a recording procedure could help explain "no change" or "negative change" comparison report results. Referral and treatment program omissions are discussed in the "Anomalies and Outliers" web page, and in the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) manual. This caveat is worth repeating. Non-treatment may help explain "no change" or "negative change" comparison results.

Another treatment effectiveness outcome consideration involves the pretest scale score. When the pretest score is at or below the 69th percentile (or in the "no-problem" range), there is, little need for treatment. In some of these instances, little change is likely. Low pretest scale scores may account for little change in the pretest/posttest scale comparisons.

These caveats are intended to help Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) users understand PRO test comparison (pretest/posttest) results. Perhaps, the most informative PRO resource is this website: PRO test administration is via our internet (online) platform If you have questions or suggestions, please call the Professional Online Testing Solutions, Inc. Toll free number: 1 (800) 231-2401, or email us at

Numerous studies (Andrews, Bonta & Hoge, 1990; Freidmann, Hendrickson, Gerstein & Zhang, 2004) have demonstrated the importance of matching problem severity, with treatment intensity. Other studies attest to the value of intervention, counseling, and treatment (Bergin & Garfield, 1994). However, after completion of treatment, the question often remains, "Was treatment effective?" Did the probationer positively change? Treatment staff, referral sources, mental health professionals, probationers, their families, and many others want to know when treatment is effective and results in positive change.

Professional Online Testing Solutions, Inc.
P.O. Box 32974
Phoenix, Arizona 85064-3974
Telephone 1 (800)231-2401


The Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) is administered to a client (offender, patient) twice - once, before entering treatment (pretest) and again, upon treatment completion (posttest). Pretest scale scores serve as a baseline for subsequent posttest comparison. The Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) is a multiscale, self-report, assessment instrument, or test. The eight, Probation Referral Outcome (PRO) scales (Truthfulness, Violence, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem, Alcohol, Drug, and Stress Management) are evidence-based. They provide a broad and relevant outcome spectrum, for assessing treatment-related change. When interested in client change, treatment outcome, or treatment effectiveness, we recommend consideration of the Probation Referral Outcome (PRO).


Andrews, D. A., Bonta, J., & Hoge, R. D. (1990). Classification for effective rehabilitation: Rediscovering psychology. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, 19-52.

Bach, P. & McCracken, S.G. (2006). Best practice guidelines for behavioral interventions. Behavioral Health Recovery Management Project, 1-58. Retrieved from

Bergin, A. E. & S. L. Garfield, Eds. (1994). Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change, 4th Edition. New York: Wiley.

Freidmann, P. D., Hendrickson, J. C., Gerstein, D. R. & Zhang, Z. (2004). The effect of matching comprehensive services to patients� needs on drug use improvement in addiction treatment. Addiction, 99 (8): 962-972.

Kingi, T. K. & Hauora, T. P. (2003). Developing Measures to Monitor the Impact of Outcomes on a Specific Cultural Group such as Maori. Massey University, Auckland, NZ.

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