Objectives: To construct a set of instruments to measure the level of impairment in reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), to convert the scores for each instrument into one score and to derive a compounded impairment level sumscore (ISS), and to evaluate reliability, validity, and responsiveness of the ISS.
Data sources and extraction: Literature search in Medline (1985 to 1995), non-Medline journals, and references from these reports for measurement parameters and suitable, reliable, responsive, and validated instruments.
Data synthesis: Four measurement parameters (pain, active range of motion, temperature, and volume) and five measurement instruments were chosen to construct the ISS. All outcomes were converted into one score, resulting in an addable score.
Results: Forty-five patients with RSD of one upper extremity were evaluated. As expected for this heterogeneous index, the internal consistency of the ISS was poor to moderate. The ISS seemed to have content and concurrent validity. The responsiveness of the ISS was adequate.
Conclusions: A multicomponent test was constructed to map alterations in the level of impairment in RSD patients. Each of the parameter scores could be translated into a uniform score. Adding the scores yielded the ISS.