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01.12.2012 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

BMC Health Services Research 1/2012

Summarizing activity limitations in children with chronic illnesses living in the community: a measurement study of scales using supplemented interRAI items

BMC Health Services Research > Ausgabe 1/2012
Charles D Phillips, Ashweeta Patnaik, Darcy K Moudouni, Emily Naiser, James A Dyer, Catherine Hawes, Constance J Fournier, Thomas R Miller, Timothy R Elliott
Wichtige Hinweise
Charles D Phillips, Ashweeta Patnaik, Darcy K Moudouni, Emily Naiser, James A Dyer, Catherine Hawes, Constance J Fournier, Thomas R Miller and Timothy R Elliott contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

CDP, EN, JAD, CH, CJF, and TRE developed the instrumentation and project plan. JAD and EN supervised the data collection. AP cleaned the data. All authors were involved in planning the paper and analyses of the results. AP, DKM, and TRM performed the analyses. CDP wrote the first draft. All authors commented on and approved the final draft of the paper.



To test the validity and reliability of scales intended to measure activity limitations faced by children with chronic illnesses living in the community. The scales were based on information provided by caregivers to service program personnel almost exclusively trained as social workers. The items used to measure activity limitations were interRAI items supplemented so that they were more applicable to activity limitations in children with chronic illnesses. In addition, these analyses may shed light on the possibility of gathering functional information that can span the life course as well as spanning different care settings.


Analyses included testing the internal consistency, predictive, concurrent, discriminant and construct validity of two activity limitation scales. The scales were developed using assessment data gathered in the United States of America (USA) from over 2,700 assessments of children aged 4 to 20 receiving Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) services, specifically Personal Care Services to assist children in overcoming activity limitations. The Medicaid program in the USA pays for health care services provided to children in low-income households. Data were collected in a single, large state in the southwestern USA in late 2008 and early 2009. A similar sample of children was assessed in 2010, and the analyses were replicated using this sample.


The two scales exhibited excellent internal consistency. Evidence on the concurrent, predictive, discriminant, and construct validity of the proposed scales was strong. Quite importantly, scale scores were not correlated with (confounded with) a child's developmental stage or age. The results for these scales and items were consistent across the two independent samples.


Unpaid caregivers, usually parents, can provide assessors lacking either medical or nursing training with reliable and valid information on the activity limitations of children. One can summarize these data in scales that are both internally consistent and valid. Researchers and clinicians can use supplemented interRAI items to provide guidance for professionals and programs serving children, as well as older persons. This research emphasizes the importance of developing medical information systems that allow one to integrate information not only across care settings but also across an individual's life course.
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