Rating scales for dystonia: a multicenter assessment

Mov Disord. 2003 Mar;18(3):303-312. doi: 10.1002/mds.10377.


The evaluation of dystonia requires a reliable rating scale. The widely used Fahn-Marsden Scale (F-M) has not been sufficiently tested across multiple centers and investigators. The Dystonia Study Group developed the Unified Dystonia Rating Scale (UDRS) and a Global Dystonia Rating Scale (GDS) to serve as instruments to assess dystonia severity. In this study, 25 dystonia experts evaluated the UDRS, F-M, and GDS for internal consistency and reliability. One hundred dystonia patients were videotaped using a standardized videotape protocol. Each examiner rated 20 patients using the UDRS, F-M, and GDS in random order. The examiner then assessed each scale for ease of use. Statistical analysis used Cronbach's alpha, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), generalized weighted kappa statistic, and Kendall's coefficient of concordance. The UDRS, F-M, and GDS showed excellent internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha 0.89-0.93) and good to excellent correlation among the raters (ICC range from 0.71-0.78). Inter-rater agreement was fair to excellent (Kendall's 0.54-0.87; kappa 0.37-0.91) being lowest for eyes, jaw, face, and larynx. The modifying ratings (Duration in the UDRS and Provoking Factor in the F-M) showed less agreement than the motor severity ratings. Among scales, the total scores correlated (Pearson's r, 0.977-0.983). Overall, 74% of raters found the GDS the easiest to apply. The GDS with its simplicity and ease of application may be the most useful dystonia rating scale.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dystonia / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Videotape Recording