The Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) scale: a revised scale for contemporary palliative care clinical practice [ISRCTN81117481]

BMC Palliat Care. 2005 Nov 12;4:7. doi: 10.1186/1472-684X-4-7.


Background: The Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) is a gold standard scale. The Thorne-modified KPS (TKPS) focuses on community-based care and has been shown to be more relevant to palliative care settings than the original KPS. The Australia-modified KPS (AKPS) blends KPS and TKPS to accommodate any setting of care.

Methods: Performance status was measured using all three scales for palliative care patients enrolled in a randomized controlled trial in South Australia. Care occurred in a range of settings. Survival was defined from enrollment to death.

Results: Ratings were collected at 1600 timepoints for 306 participants. The median score on all scales was 60. KPS and AKPS agreed in 87% of ratings; 79% of disagreements occurred within 1 level on the 11-level scales. KPS and TKPS agreed in 76% of ratings; 85% of disagreements occurred within one level. AKPS and TKPS agreed in 85% of ratings; 87% of disagreements were within one level. Strongest agreement occurred at the highest levels (70-90), with greatest disagreement at lower levels (< or =40). Kappa coefficients for agreement were KPS-TKPS 0.71, KPS-AKPS 0.84, and AKPS-TKPS 0.82 (all p < 0.001). Spearman correlations with survival were KPS 0.26, TKPS 0.27 and AKPS 0.26 (all p < 0.001). AKPS was most predictive of survival at the lower range of the scale. All had longitudinal test-retest validity. Face validity was greatest for the AKPS.

Conclusion: The AKPS is a useful modification of the KPS that is more appropriate for clinical settings that include multiple venues of care such as palliative care.