Use of existing patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments and their modification: the ISPOR Good Research Practices for Evaluating and Documenting Content Validity for the Use of Existing Instruments and Their Modification PRO Task Force Report

Value Health. 2009 Nov-Dec;12(8):1075-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4733.2009.00603.x. Epub 2009 Sep 25.


Background: Patient-reported outcome (PRO) instruments are used to evaluate the effect of medical products on how patients feel or function. This article presents the results of an ISPOR task force convened to address good clinical research practices for the use of existing or modified PRO instruments to support medical product labeling claims. The focus of the article is on content validity, with specific reference to existing or modified PRO instruments, because of the importance of content validity in selecting or modifying an existing PRO instrument and the lack of consensus in the research community regarding best practices for establishing and documenting this measurement property.

Methods: Topics addressed in the article include: definition and general description of content validity; PRO concept identification as the important first step in establishing content validity; instrument identification and the initial review process; key issues in qualitative methodology; and potential threats to content validity, with three case examples used to illustrate types of threats and how they might be resolved. A table of steps used to identify and evaluate an existing PRO instrument is provided, and figures are used to illustrate the meaning of content validity in relationship to instrument development and evaluation. RESULTS & RECOMMENDATIONS: Four important threats to content validity are identified: unclear conceptual match between the PRO instrument and the intended claim, lack of direct patient input into PRO item content from the target population in which the claim is desired, no evidence that the most relevant and important item content is contained in the instrument, and lack of documentation to support modifications to the PRO instrument. In some cases, careful review of the threats to content validity in a specific application may be reduced through additional well documented qualitative studies that specifically address the issue of concern.

Conclusion: Published evidence of the content validity of a PRO instrument for an intended application is often limited. Such evidence is, however, important to evaluating the adequacy of a PRO instrument for the intended application. This article provides an overview of key issues involved in assessing and documenting content validity as it relates to using existing instruments in the drug approval process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Focus Groups
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Research
  • Research Design*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Validation Studies as Topic