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Tracking Functional Status Across the Spinal Cord Injury Lifespan: Linking Pediatric and Adult Patient-Reported Outcome Scores

      Abstract

      Objective

      To use item response theory (IRT) methods to link scores from 2 recently developed contemporary functional outcome measures, the adult Spinal Cord Injury–Functional Index (SCI-FI) and the Pedi SCI (both the parent version and the child version).

      Design

      Secondary data analysis of the physical functioning items of the adult SCI-FI and the Pedi SCI instruments. We used a nonequivalent group design with items common to both instruments and the Stocking-Lord method for the linking. Linking was conducted so that the adult SCI-FI and Pedi SCI scaled scores could be compared.

      Setting

      Community.

      Participants

      This study included a total sample of 1558 participants. Pedi SCI items were administered to a sample of children (n=381) with SCI aged 8 to 21 years, and of parents/caregivers (n=322) of children with SCI aged 4 to 21 years. Adult SCI-FI items were administered to a sample of adults (n=855) with SCI aged 18 to 92 years.

      Interventions

      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Five scales common to both instruments were included in the analysis: Wheelchair, Daily Routine/Self-care, Daily Routine/Fine Motor, Ambulation, and General Mobility functioning.

      Results

      Confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory factor analysis results indicated that the 5 scales are unidimensional. A graded response model was used to calibrate the items. Misfitting items were identified and removed from the item banks. Items that function differently between the adult and child samples (ie, exhibit differential item functioning) were identified and removed from the common items used for linking. Domain scores from the Pedi SCI instruments were transformed onto the adult SCI-FI metric.

      Conclusions

      This IRT linking allowed estimation of adult SCI-FI scale scores based on Pedi SCI scale scores and vice versa; therefore, it provides clinicians with a means of tracking long-term functional data for children with an SCI across their entire lifespan.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      CFA (confirmatory factor analysis), CFI (comparative fit index), DIF (differential item functioning), EFA (exploratory factor analysis), IRT (item response theory), ISNCSCI (International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury), MDS (minimal data set), PRO (patient-reported outcome), SCI (spinal cord injury), SCI-FI (Spinal Cord Injury–Functional Index), TLI (Tucker-Lewis index)
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