Background: Quality of life (QoL) in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) has been found to differ across countries. However, comparability of measurement results between countries depends on the cross-cultural validity of the applied instruments. The study examined the metric quality and cross-cultural validity of the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (LISAT-9), the Personal Well-Being Index (PWI) and the 5-item World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQoL-5) across six countries in a sample of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Methods: A cross-sectional multi-centre study was conducted and the data of 243 out-patients with SCI from study centers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, South Africa, and the United States were analyzed using Rasch-based methods.
Results: The analyses showed high reliability for all 4 instruments (person reliability index .78-.92). Unidimensionality of measurement was supported for the WHOQoL-5 (Chi2 = 16.43, df = 10, p = .088), partially supported for the PWI (Chi2 = 15.62, df = 16, p = .480), but rejected for the LISAT-9 (Chi2 = 50.60, df = 18, p = .000) and the SWLS (Chi2 = 78.54, df = 10, p = .000) based on overall and item-wise Chi2 tests, principal components analyses and independent t-tests. The response scales showed the expected ordering for the WHOQoL-5 and the PWI, but not for the other two instruments. Using differential item functioning (DIF) analyses potential cross-country bias was found in two items of the SWLS and the WHOQoL-5, three items of the LISAT-9 and four items of the PWI. However, applying Rasch-based statistical methods, especially subtest analyses, it was possible to identify optimal strategies to enhance the metric properties and the cross-country equivalence of the instruments post-hoc. Following the post-hoc procedures the WHOQOL-5 and the PWI worked in a consistent and expected way in all countries.
Conclusions: QoL assessment using the summary scores of the WHOQOL-5 and the PWI appeared cross-culturally valid in persons with SCI. In contrast, summary scores of the LISAT-9 and the SWLS have to be interpreted with caution. The findings of the current study can be especially helpful to select instruments for international research projects in SCI.