Measuring physical function in community-dwelling older persons: a comparison of self-administered, interviewer-administered, and performance-based measures

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Jan;43(1):17-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb06236.x.


Purpose: To compare two self-administered, one interviewer-administered, and one performance-based measure of physical function in community-based older persons.

Methods: Eighty-three subjects were recruited from meal sites, senior recreation centers, and senior housing units for a comprehensive geriatric assessment program. At the time of screening, study participants self-administered the Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ) and were administered the Katz Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and the Older Americans Resources and Services Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (OARS-IADL) instruments by interview. Participants also completed the Physical Performance Test (PPT) and were given the Medical Outcomes Study SF-36 to self-administer on site or at home and return by mail.

Results: All 83 subjects completed FSQ, Katz ADL, OARS-IADL, and PPT; 72 returned SF-36 forms. Correlations between the two self-administered physical function measures (FSQ and SF-36) were higher than between self-administered and interviewer-assessed (ADL and OARS-IADL) or performance-based (PPT) measures. When assessed for construct validity, the self-administered, OARS, and PPT measures had comparable correlations with role limitations as a result of physical health problems, but relationships between physical functional status measures and other SF-36 measures of health were inconsistent.

Conclusion: The relationships between commonly used self-administered, interviewer-administered, and performance-based measures of physical function were inconsistent and weak, suggesting that these instruments are not measuring the same construct.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Participation
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Quality of Life
  • Random Allocation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*