It has been well documented that IQ scores calculated using Canadian norms are generally 2–5 points lower than those calculated using American norms on the Wechsler IQ scales. However, recent findings have demonstrated that the difference may be significantly larger for individuals with certain demographic characteristics, and this has prompted discussion about the appropriateness of using the Canadian normative system with a clinical population in Canada. This study compared the interpretive effects of applying the American and Canadian normative systems in a clinical sample. We used a multivariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) to calculate differences between IQ and Index scores in a clinical sample, and mixed model ANOVAs to assess the pattern of differences across age and ability level. As expected, Full Scale IQ scores calculated using Canadian norms were systematically lower than those calculated using American norms, but differences were significantly larger for individuals classified as having extremely low or borderline intellectual functioning when compared with those who scored in the average range. Implications of clinically different conclusions for up to 52.8% of patients based on these discrepancies highlight a unique dilemma facing Canadian clinicians, and underscore the need for caution when choosing a normative system with which to interpret WAIS-IV results in the context of a neuropsychological test battery in Canada. Based on these findings, we offer guidelines for best practice for Canadian clinicians when interpreting data from neuropsychological test batteries that include different normative systems, and suggestions to assist with future test development.

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