Issues in selecting outcome measures to assess functional recovery after stroke.
Most patients who survive a stroke experience some degree of physical recovery. Selecting the appropriate outcome measure to assess physical recovery is a difficult task, given the heterogeneity of stroke etiology, symptoms, severity, and even recovery itself. Despite these complexities, a number of strategies can facilitate the selection of functional outcome measures in stroke clinical trial research and practice. Clinical relevance in stroke outcome measures can be optimized by incorporating a framework of health and disability, such as the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). The ICF provides the conceptual basis for measurement and policy formulations for disability and health assessment. All outcome measures selected should also have sound psychometric properties. The essential psychometric properties are reliability, validity, responsiveness, sensibility, and established minimal clinically important difference. It is also important to establish the purpose of the measurement (discriminative, predictive, or evaluative) and to determine whether the purpose of the study is to evaluate the efficacy or effectiveness of an intervention. In addition, when selecting outcome measures and time of assessment, the natural history of stroke and stroke severity must be regarded. Finally, methods for acquiring data must also be considered. We present a comprehensive overview of the issues in selecting stroke outcome measures and characterize existing measures relative to these issues.
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