Goal attainment scaling in paediatric rehabilitation: a critical review of the literature

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2007 Jul;49(7):550-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00550.x.


The aim of the study was to review the psychometric properties and use of goal attainment scaling (GAS) in paediatric rehabilitation research. We performed a critical literature review searching: (1) all studies whose main focus was to assess the psychometric properties of GAS in paediatric rehabilitation; and (2) all effect studies in paediatric rehabilitation that used GAS as one of the outcome measures. Three articles in the first group and six in the second group met the inclusion criteria. None of the studies had investigated the content reliability of the scales. Interrater reliability had been investigated in one study and had been found to be good. Only one trial had assessed the content validity of the developed scales, which was found to be acceptable. Comparisons showed that GAS, because of its idiosyncratic nature, measures different constructs from those measured by some related instruments. Low concurrent validity was found. All included studies reported good sensitivity to change. We conclude that the literature supports promising qualities of GAS in paediatric rehabilitation. GAS is a responsive method for individual goal setting and for treatment evaluation. However, current knowledge about its reliability when used with children is insufficient. There is a need for further development of GAS and its application for children of different ages and disabilities, across therapists of different disciplines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pediatrics
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Psychometrics*
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Sensitivity and Specificity