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To determine the clinimetric properties of two questionnaires assessing symptoms (Symptom Severity Scale) and physical functioning (hand and finger function subscale of the AIMS2) in a Dutch primary care population.
The first 84 participants in a 1-year follow-up study on the diagnosis and prognosis of hand and wrist problems completed the Symptom Severity Scale and the hand and finger function subscale of the Dutch-AIMS2 twice within 1 to 2 weeks. The data were used to assess test-retest reliability (ICC) and smallest detectable change (SDC, based on the standard error of measurement (SEM)). To assess responsiveness, changes in scores between baseline and the 3 month follow-up were related to an external criterion to estimate the minimal important change (MIC). We calculated the group size needed to detect the MIC beyond measurement error.
The ICC for the Symptom Severity Scale was 0.68 (95% CI: 0.54–0.78). The SDC was 1.00 at individual level and 0.11 at group level, both on a 5-point scale. The MIC was 0.23, exceeding the SDC at group level. The group size required to detect a MIC beyond measurement error was 19 for the Symptom Severity Scale. The ICC for the hand and finger function subscale of the Dutch-AIMS2 was 0.62 (95% CI: 0.47–0.74). The SDC was 3.80 at individual level and 0.42 at group level, both on an 11-point scale. The MIC was 0.31, which was less than the SDC at group level. The group size required to detect a MIC beyond measurement error was 150.
In our heterogeneous primary care population the Symptom Severity Scale was found to be a suitable instrument to assess the severity of symptoms, whereas the hand and finger function subscale of the Dutch-AIMS2 was less suitable for the measurement of physical functioning in patients with hand and wrist problems.
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