Background: Joint contractures are frequent in older individuals in geriatric care settings. Even though they are used as indicator of quality of care, there is neither a common standard to describe functioning and disability in patients nor an established standardized assessment to describe and quantify the impact of joint contractures on patients' functioning. Thus, the aim of our study is (1) to develop a standard set for the assessment of the impact of joint contractures on functioning and social participation in older individuals and (2) to develop and validate a standardized assessment instrument for describing and quantifying the impact of joint contractures on the individuals' functioning.
Methods: The standard set for joint contractures integrate the perspectives of all potentially relevant user groups, from the affected individuals to clinicians and researchers. The development of this set follows the methodology to develop an International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) Core Set and involves a formal decision-making and consensus process. Evidence from four preparatory studies will be integrated including qualitative interviews with patients, a systematic review of the literature, a survey with health professionals, and a cross sectional study with patients affected by joint contractures. The assessment instrument will be developed using item-response-theory models. The instrument will be validated.
Discussion: The standard set for joint contractures will provide a list of aspects of functioning and health most relevant for older individuals in geriatric care settings with joint contractures. This list will describe body functions, body structures, activities and participation and related environmental factors. This standard set will define what aspects of functioning should be assessed in individuals with joint contractures and will be the basis of the new assessment instrument to evaluate the impact of joint contractures on functioning and social participation.