Increasing the Sensitivity of Measures to Change

Prev Sci. 2015 Oct;16(7):978-86. doi: 10.1007/s11121-015-0545-z.


Little attention is paid in prevention research to the ability of measures to accurately assess change, termed "responsiveness" or "sensitivity to change." This paper reviews definitions and measures of responsiveness, and suggests five strategies for increasing sensitivity to change, with central focus on prevention research with small samples: (a) improving understandability and cultural validity, (b) assuring that the measure covers the full range of the latent construct being measured, (c) eliminating redundant items, (d) maximizing sensitivity of the device used to collect responses; and (e) asking directly about change. Examples of the application of each strategy are provided. The discussion focuses on using the issues as a checklist for improving measures and the implications of sensitivity to change for prevention research with small samples.

Keywords: Alaska Native; Item response theory; Sensitivity to change; Small sample methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration*