Background: The purpose of this study was to develop a short, reliable, and valid measure of physical function and symptoms related to upper-limb musculoskeletal disorders by shortening the full, thirty-item DASH (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand) Outcome Measure.
Methods: Three item-reduction techniques were used on the cross-sectional field-testing data derived from a study of 407 patients with various upper-limb conditions. These techniques were the concept-retention method, the equidiscriminative item-total correlation, and the item response theory (Rasch modeling). Three eleven-item scales were created. Data from a longitudinal cohort study in which the DASH questionnaire was administered to 200 patients with shoulder and wrist/hand disorders were then used to assess the reliability (Cronbach alpha and test-retest reliability) and validity (cross-sectional and longitudinal construct) of the three scales. Results were compared with those derived with the full DASH.
Results: The three versions were comparable with regard to their measurement properties. All had a Cronbach alpha of > or = 0.92 and an intraclass correlation coefficient of > or = 0.94. Evidence of construct validity was established (r > or = 0.64 with single-item indices of pain and function). The concept-retention method, the most subjective of the approaches to item reduction, ranked highest in terms of its similarity to the original DASH.
Conclusions: The concept-retention version is named the QuickDASH. It contains eleven items and is similar with regard to scores and properties to the full DASH. A comparison of item-reduction approaches suggested that the retention of clinically sensible and important content produced a comparable, if not slightly better, instrument than did more statistically driven approaches.