Manual wheelchair skills: objective testing versus subjective questionnaire

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Dec;93(12):2313-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


Objectives: To test the hypothesis that the total scores of the Wheelchair Skills Test (WST) version 4.1, an observer-rated scale of wheelchair performance, and the Wheelchair Skills Test Questionnaire (WST-Q) version 4.1, a self-report of wheelchair skills, are highly correlated. We also anticipate that the WST-Q scores will be slightly higher, indicating an overestimation of capacity to perform wheelchair skills as compared with actual capacity.

Design: A cross-sectional, within-subjects comparison design.

Setting: Three Canadian cities.

Participants: Convenience sample of community-dwelling, experienced manual wheelchair users (N=89) ranging in age from 21 to 94 years.

Intervention: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Participants completed the subjective WST-Q version 4.1 followed by the objective WST version 4.1 in 1 testing session.

Results: The mean ± SD total percentage scores for WST and WST-Q were 79.5%±14.4% and 83.0%±12.1% for capacity and 99.4%±1.5% and 98.9%±2.5% for safety, respectively. The correlations between the WST and WST-Q scores were ρ=.89 (P=.000) for capacity and ρ=.12 (P=.251) for safety. WST-Q total score mean differences were an average of 3.5%±6.5% higher than WST scores for capacity (P=.000) and .52%±2.8% lower for safety (P=.343). For the 32 individual skills, the percentage agreement between the WST and WST-Q scores ranged from 82% to 100% for capacity and from 90% to 100% for safety.

Conclusion: WST and WST-Q version 4.1 capacity scores are highly correlated although the WST-Q scores are slightly higher. Decisions on which of these assessments to use can safely be based on the circumstances and objectives of the evaluation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills*
  • Observation*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Wheelchairs*