Dimensionality and hierarchical structure of disability measurement

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Since the D-code of the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps (ICIDH) in its full form has proven to be impractical, an instrument based on a selection of 28 items is used to measure disability in Dutch patients undergoing rehabilitation. The items are categorized into 5 domains of physical, activities of daily living (ADL), social, psychological, and communicative activity. Measurement is made on a 4-point scale ranging from 0 (not disabled) to 3 (severely disabled). As a result of the ordinal character of the rating, statistical and mathematical manipulations of the scores are complicated. The aim of this study was to obtain more insight in the dimensionality and hierarchical structure of the items, to overcome problems in comparing disability between items, between patients, and within patients between different moments in time. Mokken scale analysis of the disability scores from 1,967 rehabilitation inpatients showed that the 28 items constitute hierarchical scales. However, categorization of the items into the 5 original domains was not replicated. Five other scales or dimensions were investigated, measuring the level of extended ADL, extended psychological, fine motoric, work/leisure, and hearing/ seeing activity, respectively. The number of items per dimension ranges from 14 in the extended ADL dimension to 2 each in the work/leisure and hearing/seeing dimensions. Although each disability item may be of importance in clinical case management, a reduced set of extended ADL items suffices to describe the disability level in this dimension for epidemiological research purposes. The other dimensions need further specification to provide reliable and sensitive measuring of disability. © 1995 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.




van Boxel, Y. J. J. M., Roest, F. H. J., Bergen, M. P., & Stam, H. J. (1995). Dimensionality and hierarchical structure of disability measurement. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 76(12), 1152–1155. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0003-9993(95)80125-1

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