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The study aimed to validate a scale to assess the severity of “Yin deficiency, intestine heat” pattern of functional constipation based on the modern test theory.
Pooled longitudinal data of 237 patients with “Yin deficiency, intestine heat” pattern of constipation from a prospective cohort study were used to validate the scale. Exploratory factor analysis was used to examine the common factors of items. A multidimensional item response model was used to assess the scale with the presence of multidimensionality.
The Cronbach’s alpha ranged from 0.79 to 0.89, and the split-half reliability ranged from 0.67 to 0.79 at different measurements. Exploratory factor analysis identified two common factors, and all items had cross factor loadings. Bidimensional model had better goodness of fit than the unidimensional model. Multidimensional item response model showed that the all items had moderate to high discrimination parameters. Parameters indicated that the first latent trait signified intestine heat, while the second trait characterized Yin deficiency. Information function showed that items demonstrated highest discrimination power among patients with moderate to high level of disease severity.
Multidimensional item response theory provides a useful and rational approach in validating scales for assessing the severity of patterns in traditional Chinese medicine.