Purpose: To investigate the validity of comparisons across patients with different musculoskeletal disorders and persons from the general population by evaluating differential item functioning (DIF) for the PROMIS physical function (PROMIS-PF), pain interference (PROMIS-PI), and pain behavior (PROMIS-PB) item banks.
Methods: Patients with chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or osteoarthritis (OA); patients receiving physiotherapy (PT); and persons from the Dutch general population completed the full Dutch-Flemish PROMIS-PF (121-items), PROMIS-PI (40-items), or PROMIS-PB (39-items) banks. DIF was assessed with ordinal logistic regression models and McFadden's pseudo R2-change of ≥ 2% as critical value. The impact of DIF on item scores and the T-scores per bank was examined by inspecting item characteristic curves (ICCs) and test characteristic curves (TCCs).
Results: 2762 patients with chronic pain, 2029 with RA, 1247 with OA, 805 receiving PT, and 1310 healthy persons participated. For the PROMIS-PF, 25 out of 121 items were flagged for DIF, of which 10 items were flagged in multiple comparisons. For the PROMIS-PI, only 2 out of 40 items were flagged for DIF and for the PROMIS-PB, only 3 out of 39 items. Most DIF items had R2 values just above the critical value of 2% and all showed uniform DIF. The ICCs and TCCs showed that the magnitude and impact of DIF on the item and T-scores were negligible.
Conclusions: This study supports the universal applicability of PROMIS across (patient) populations. Comparisons across patients with different musculoskeletal disorders and persons from the general population are valid, when applying the PROMIS-PF, PROMIS-PI, and PROMIS-PB banks.
Keywords: Chronic pain; Differential item functioning; General population; Hip or knee osteoarthritis; PROMIS; Rheumatoid arthritis.