Combining anchor and distribution-based methods to derive minimal clinically important differences on the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) anemia and fatigue scales

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2002 Dec;24(6):547-61. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(02)00529-8.


Magnitude differences in scores on a measure of quality of life that correspond to differences in function or clinical course are called clinically important differences (CIDs). Anchor-based and distribution-based methods were used to provide ranges of CIDs for five targeted scale scores of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Anemia (FACT-An) questionnaire. Three samples of cancer patients were used: Sample 1 included 50 patients participating in a validation study of the FACT-An; Sample 2 included 131 patients participating in a longitudinal study of chemotherapy-induced fatigue; sample 3 included 2,402 patients enrolled in a community-based clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness and safety of a treatment for anemia. Three clinical indicators (hemoglobin level; performance status; response to treatment) were used to determine anchor-based differences. One-half of the standard deviation and 1 standard error of measurement were used as distribution-based criteria. Analyses supported the following whole number estimates of a minimal CID for these five targeted scores: Fatigue Scale = 3.0; FACT-G total score = 4.0; FACT-An total score = 7.0; Trial Outcome Index-Fatigue = 5.0; and Trial Outcome Index-Anemia = 6.0. These estimates provide a basis for sample size estimation when planning for a clinical trial or other longitudinal study, when the purpose is to ensure detection of meaningful change over time. They can also be used in conjunction with more traditional clinical markers to assist investigators in determining treatment efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / etiology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fatigue / etiology*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Antineoplastic Agents