Improving measurement methods in rehabilitation: core concepts and recommendations for scale development

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Aug;93(8 Suppl):S154-63. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.06.001.


Validated measurement scales are essential to evaluating clinical outcomes and conducting meaningful and reliable research. The purpose of this article is to present the clinician and researcher with a contemporary 8-stage framework for measurement scale development based on a mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative approach. Core concepts related to item response theory are presented. Qualitative methods are described to conceptualize scale constructs; obtain patient, family, and other stakeholder perspectives; and develop item pools. Item response theory statistical methodologies are presented, including approaches for testing the assumptions of unidimensionality, local independence, monotonicity, and indices of model fit. Lastly, challenges faced by scale developers in implementing these methodologies are discussed. While rehabilitation research has recently started to apply mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative methodologies to scale development, these approaches show considerable promise in advancing rehabilitation measurement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Rehabilitation / standards
  • Research Design*