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Dr. N. (Niels) Smits

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Programme group: Methods and statistics

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 127
Postal address
  • Postbus 15776
    1001 NG Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Research

    My expertise lies in applied statistics and psychometrics. I am especially interested in developing methods for efficient assessment like computerized adaptive testing and stochastic curtailment. Other interests are test construction, the analysis of missing data, (psychometric) decision theory, classification, and machine learning. In addition, I assist applied researchers in planning, analyzing and reporting their research.

  • Publications


    • Smits, N., Öğreden, O., Garnier-Villarreal, M., Terwee, C. B., & Chalmers, R. P. (2020). A study of alternative approaches to non-normal latent trait distributions in item response theory models used for health outcome measurement. Statistical Methods in Medical Research, 29(4), 1030-1048. [details]


    • Conijn, J. M., Smits, N., & Hartman, E. E. (2019). Determining at what age children provide sound self-reports: An illustration of the validity-index approach. Assessment.
    • Crins, M. H. P., Terwee, C. B., Westhovens, R., van Schaardenburg, D., Smits, N., Joly, J., ... Roorda, L. D. (2019). First Validation of the Full PROMIS Pain Interference and Pain Behavior Item Banks in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Care & Research.
    • Finkelman, M. D., Jamison, R. N., Kulich, R. J., Butler, S. F., Smits, N., & Weiner, S. G. (2019). A comparison of short forms of the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients With Pain--Revised (SOAPP-R). European Journal of Psychological Assessment.
    • Flens, G., Smits, N., Terwee, C. B., Dekker, J., Huijbrechts, I., Spinhoven, P., & de Beurs, E. (2019). Development of a Computerized Adaptive Test for Anxiety Based on the Dutch–Flemish Version of the PROMIS Item Bank. Assessment, 26(7), 1362-1374. [details]
    • Flens, G., Smits, N., Terwee, C. B., Pijck, L., Spinhoven, P., & de Beurs, E. (2019). Practical Significance of Longitudinal Measurement Invariance Violations in the Dutch-Flemish PROMIS Item Banks for Depression and Anxiety: An Illustration With Ordered-Categorical Data. Assessment, 1073191119880967.
    • Oosterveld, P., Vorst, H. C. M., & Smits, N. (2019). Methods for questionnaire design: a taxonomy linking procedures to test goals. Quality of Life Research, 28(9), 2501-2512. [details]


    • Finkelman, M. D., Jamison, R. N., Magnuson, B., Kulich, R. J., Butler, S. F., Smits, N., & Weiner, S. G. (2018). Computer-based testing and the 12-item Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain-Revised: A combined approach to improving efficiency. Journal of Applied Biobehavioral Research, [e12145].
    • Finkelman, M. D., Lowe, S. R., Kim, W., Gruebner, O., Smits, N., & Galea, S. (2018). Item Ordering and Computerized Classification Tests With Cluster-Based Scoring: An Investigation of the Countdown Method. Psychological Assessment, 30(2), 204-219. [details]
    • Fokkema, M., Smits, N., Zeileis, A., Hothorn, T., & Kelderman, H. (2018). Detecting treatment-subgroup interactions in clustered data with generalized linear mixed-effects model trees. Behavior Research Methods, 50(5), 2016-2034. [details]
    • Smits, N., Paap, M. C. S., & Böhnke, J. R. (2018). Some recommendations for developing multidimensional computerized adaptive tests for patient-reported outcomes. Quality of Life Research, 27(4), 1055-1063. [details]
    • Smits, N., van der Ark, L. A., & Conijn, J. M. (2018). Measurement versus prediction in the construction of patient-reported outcome questionnaires: Can we have our cake and eat it? Quality of Life Research, 7(27), 1673-1682. [details]




    • Crins, M. H. P., Roorda, L. D., Smits, N., de Vet, H. C. W., Westenhovens, R., Cella, D., ... Terwee, C. B. (2015). Calibration and validation of the Dutch-Flemish PROMIS pain interference item bank in patients with chronic pain. PLoS ONE, 10(7), [e0134094]. [details]
    • Finkelman, M. D., Kulich, R. J., Zacharoff, K. L., Smits, N., Magnuson, B. E., Dong, J., & Butler, S. F. (2015). Shortening the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain-Revised (SOAPP-R): A proof-of-principle study for customized computer-based testing. Pain Medicine, 16(12), 2344-2356. [details]
    • Fokkema, M., Smits, N., Kelderman, H., & Penninx, B. W. J. H. (2015). Connecting clinical and actuarial prediction with rule-based methods. Psychological Assessment, 27(2), 636-644. [details]
    • Kerkhof, W., Stoel, R. D., Berger, C. E. H., Mattijssen, E. J. A. T., Hermsen, R., Smits, N., & Hardy, H. J. J. (2015). Design and results of an exploratory double blind testing program in firearms examination. Science & justice, 55(6), 514-519. [details]
    • Sie, H., Finkelman, M. D., Riley, B., & Smits, N. (2015). Utilizing response times in computerized classification testing. Applied Psychological Measurement, 39(5), 389-405. [details]
    • Smits, N., & Finkelman, M. D. (2015). Shortening the PHQ-9: a proof-of-principle study of utilizing Stochastic Curtailment as a method for constructing ultrashort screening instruments. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37(5), 464-469. [details]
    • Smits, N., Kelderman, H., & Hoeksma, J. B. (2015). Een vergelijking van compensatoir en conjunctief toetsen in het hoger onderwijs. Pedagogische Studiën, 92(4), 275-285. [details]
    • Sorsdahl, K., Stein, D. J., Cuijpers, P., Smits, N., Naledi, T., & Myers, B. (2015). The efficacy of a blended motivational interviewing and problem solving therapy intervention to reduce substance use among patients presenting for emergency services in South Africa: A randomized controlled trial. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 10(46). [details]


    • Fokkema, M., Smits, N., Finkelman, M. D., Kelderman, H., & Cuijpers, P. (2014). Curtailment: A method to reduce the length of self-report questionnaires while maintaining diagnostic accuracy. Psychiatry Research, 215(2), 477-482.
    • Smits, N., & Finkelman, M. D. (2014). Variable length testing using the ordinal regression model. Statistics in Medicine, 33(3), 488-499.
    • Terluin, B., Smits, N., & Miedema, B. (2014). The English version of the four-dimensional symptom questionnaire (4DSQ) measures the same as the original Dutch questionnaire: a validation study. The European journal of general practice, 20(4), 320-326.


    • De Kieviet, J. F., Stoof, C. J. J., Geldof, C. J. A., Smits, N., Piek, J. P., Lafeber, H. N., ... Oosterlaan, J. (2013). The crucial role of the predictability of motor response in visuomotor deficits in very preterm children at school age. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 55(7), 624-630.
    • Finkelman, M. D., Kulich, R. J., Zoukhri, D., Smits, N., & Butler, S. F. (2013). Shortening the Current Opioid Misuse Measure via computer-based testing: a retrospective proof-of-concept study. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13, [126].
    • Fokkema, M., Smits, N., Kelderman, H., & Cuijpers, P. (2013). Response shifts in mental health interventions: an illustration of longitudinal measurement invariance. Psychological Assessment, 25(2), 520-531.


    • Finkelman, M. D., Smits, N., Kim, W., & Riley, B. (2012). Curtailment and Stochastic Curtailment to Shorten the CES-D. Applied Psychological Measurement, 36(8), 632-658.
    • Smits, N., Zitman, F. G., Cuijpers, P., den Hollander-Gijsman, M. E., & Carlier, I. V. E. (2012). A proof of principle for using adaptive testing in Routine Outcome Monitoring: the efficiency of the Mood and Anxiety Symptoms Questionnaire -Anhedonic Depression CAT. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 12, 4.
    • Spee, H., Smits, N., & de Koning, H. (2012). Bruikbaarheid van Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) voor prevalentieschatting van depressie en angststoornissen. TSG Tijdschrift voor Gezondheidswetenschappen, 90(3), 145-149.


    • Ekkers, W., Korrelboom, K., Huijbrechts, I., Smits, N., Cuijpers, P., & van der Gaag, M. (2011). Competitive Memory Training for treating depression and rumination in depressed older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49(10), 588-96.
    • Smits, N., Cuijpers, P., & van Straten, A. (2011). Applying computerized adaptive testing to the CES-D scale: a simulation study. Psychiatry Research, 188(1), 147-55.
    • Zhang, B., Fokkema, M., Cuijpers, P., Li, J., Smits, N., & Beekman, A. (2011). Measurement invariance of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) among Chinese and Dutch elderly. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11, [74].



    • de Bruin, A. B. H., Smits, N., Rikers, R. M. J. P., & Schmidt, H. G. (2008). Deliberate practice predicts performance over time in adolescent chess players and drop-outs: a linear mixed models analysis. British Journal of Psychology, 99(Pt 4), 473-97.
    • te Brake, H., Smits, N., Wicherts, J. M., Gorter, R. C., & Hoogstraten, J. (2008). Burnout development among dentists: a longitudinal study. European Journal of Oral Sciences, 116(6), 545-551. [details]


    • Smits, N., & Vorst, H. C. M. (2007). Reducing the length of questionnaires through structurally incomplete designs: An illustration. Learning and Individual Differences, 17(1), 25-34.
    • Smits, N., Cuijpers, P., Beekman, A. T. F., & Smit, J. H. (2007). Reducing the length of mental health instruments through structurally incomplete designs. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 16(3), 150-60.
    • Smits, N., Smit, F., Cuijpers, P., & De Graaf, R. (2007). Using decision theory to derive optimal cut-off scores of screening instruments: an illustration explicating costs and benefits of mental health screening. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 16(4), 219-29.


    • de Jonge, H., & Smits, N. (2020). Een Onderzoek naar het Verband tussen Voortgangstoetsen en Studievoortgang: Intern Rapport in Opdracht van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.


    • Zeileis, A., Gruen, B., Leisch, F., Umlauf, N., Smits, N., Birbaumer, M., & Ernst, D. (2017, Sep 23). Package ‘exams’: Automatic generation of exams in R.


    • Finkelman, M., Smits, N., Kulich, R., Zacharoff, K., Magnuson, B., Chang, H., ... Butler, S. (2016). A proof of concept for short forms of the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain-Revised (SOAPP-R). The Journal of Pain, 17(4, supplement), S24-S25. [196].



    • Smits, N. (2018). On the many trade-offs in item bank construction. S7. Abstract from ISOQOL 2018, the 25th Annual Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Research, Dublin, Ireland.


    • Flens, G., Smits, N., Terwee, C. B., & de Beurs, E. (2015). Development of Dutch computer adaptive tests for anxiety and depression using the PROMIS item banks. Paper presented at 22nd Annual Conference of the International Society For Quality Of Life Research (ISOQOL) 2015, Vancouver, Canada.


    • Crins, M. H., Terwee, C. B., Westenhovens, R., van Schaardenburg, D-J., Smits, N., Joly, F., ... Roorda, L. D. (2015). Validation of the Dutch-Flemish promis pain behavior and pain interference item banks in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 74(Suppl. 2), [THU0599].
    • Finkelman, M., Kulich, R., Zacharoff, K., Smits, N., Magnuson, B., Dong, J., & Butler, S. (2015). Reducing the respondent burden of the Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients with Pain-Revised (SOAPP-R): an approach using curtailment and stochastic curtailment. The Journal of Pain, 16(4, Supplement), S22.

    Talk / presentation

    • Smits, N. (speaker) (19-7-2017). Measurement Versus Prediction in Test Construction, 82nd Annual Meeting of the Psychometric Society, Zurich.
    • Smits, N. (speaker) (25-11-2016). The application of psychometrics in clinical contexts: issues and new methods, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
    • Smits, N. (speaker) (28-7-2016). Stochastic curtailment using the isotonic sequential regression model, VII European Congress of Methodology, Palma de Mallorca.
    • Smits, N. (speaker) (19-2-2016). Stochastic curtailment using the isotonic sequential regression model, International Workshop on Psychometric Computing (Psychoco) 2016, Liège.
    • Smits, N. (invited speaker) (17-12-2015). Don't ask too many questions: Stochastic curtailment of questionnaire data, Invited lecture at Empirical Economics and Econometrics Seminar, Innsbruck University, Innsbruck, Austria.
    • Crins, M. H. (speaker), Terwee, C. B. (speaker), Westenhovens, R. (speaker), van Schaardenburg, D.-J. (speaker), Joly, J. (speaker), Smits, N. (speaker), Verschueren, P. (speaker), van der Elst, K. (speaker), Cella, D. (speaker), Cook, K. F. (speaker), Dekker, J. (speaker), Boers, M. (speaker) & Roorda, L. D. (speaker) (21-10-2014). Calibration and validation of the Dutch-Flemish PROMIS pain behavior and pain interference item banks in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Research, Vancouver, Canada.
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  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities