Test-retest reliability of outcome measures: data from three trials in radiographic and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis

RMD Open. 2021 Dec;7(3):e001839. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2021-001839.


Objectives: Aim of this study was to assess test-retest reliability of candidate instruments for the mandatory domains of the Assessment of Spondyloarthritis international Society (ASAS)-Outcome Measures in Rheumatology core set for axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA).

Methods: Screening and baseline data from COAST-V, COAST-X and RAPID-axSpA was used to evaluate test-retest reliability of each candidate instrument for the mandatory domains (disease activity, pain, morning stiffness, fatigue, physical function, overall functioning and health). A maximum time interval of 28 days between both visits was used for inclusion in this study. Test-retest reliability was assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Bland and Altman plots provided mean difference and 95% limits of agreement, which were used to calculate the smallest detectable change (SDC). Data were analysed for radiographic and non-radiographic axSpA separately.

Results: Good reliability was found for Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (ICC 0.79, SDC 0.6), C reactive protein (ICC 0.72-0.79, SDC 12.3-17.0), Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (ICC 0.87, SDC 1.1) and 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (ICC Physical Component Summary 0.81, SDC 4.7, Mental Component Summary 0.80, SDC 7.3). Moderate reliability was found for Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (ICC 0.72, SDC 1.1), patient global assessment (ICC 0.58, SDC 1.5), total back pain (ICC 0.64, SDC 1.3), back pain at night (ICC 0.67, SDC 1.3), morning stiffness (ICC 0.52-0.63, SDC 1.5-2.2), fatigue (ICC 0.65, SDC 1.3) and ASAS-Health Index (ICC 0.74, SDC 2.5). Reliability and SDC for the radiographic and non-radiographic axSpA subgroups were similar.

Conclusion: Overall reliability was good, and comparable levels of reliability were found for patients with radiographic and non-radiographic axSpA, even though most instruments were developed for radiographic axSpA. Composite measures showed higher reliability than single-item measures in assessing disease activity in patients with axSpA.

Keywords: ankylosing; epidemiology; patient reported outcome measures; spondylitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Axial Spondyloarthritis*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spondylarthritis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing* / diagnostic imaging