Background: The COSMIN checklist is a tool for evaluating the methodological quality of studies on measurement properties of health-related patient-reported outcomes. The aim of this study is to determine the inter-rater agreement and reliability of each item score of the COSMIN checklist (n = 114).
Methods: 75 articles evaluating measurement properties were randomly selected from the bibliographic database compiled by the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Group, Oxford, UK. Raters were asked to assess the methodological quality of three articles, using the COSMIN checklist. In a one-way design, percentage agreement and intraclass kappa coefficients or quadratic-weighted kappa coefficients were calculated for each item.
Results: 88 raters participated. Of the 75 selected articles, 26 articles were rated by four to six participants, and 49 by two or three participants. Overall, percentage agreement was appropriate (68% was above 80% agreement), and the kappa coefficients for the COSMIN items were low (61% was below 0.40, 6% was above 0.75). Reasons for low inter-rater agreement were need for subjective judgement, and accustom to different standards, terminology and definitions.
Conclusions: Results indicated that raters often choose the same response option, but that it is difficult on item level to distinguish between articles. When using the COSMIN checklist in a systematic review, we recommend getting some training and experience, completing it by two independent raters, and reaching consensus on one final rating. Instructions for using the checklist are improved.