Considerations when examining the psychometric properties of measurement instruments used in health

Main Article Content

Duncan McKechnie
Murray J Fisher

Keywords

Measure, instrument, utility, validity, reliability, psychometric

Abstract

Objective: To discuss and provide insights on how to critique the psychometric properties of measurement instruments used by nurses and nurse researchers. Design and data sources: Methodological discussion paper that is based on our own experiences and research and is supported by literature. Primary argument: Nurses routinely use a variety of measurement instruments during their everyday practice. They do so with the assumption that the instrument has been thoroughly validated and has been shown to be reliable. There is the real possibility that frontline nurses are using measurement instruments that have not been validated in their patient population or context. Critiquing the psychometric properties of measurement instruments is, however, particularly complex. Complicating matters, there are conflicting standards regarding the quality criteria needed for validating the psychometric properties of measurement instruments. Conclusion: Nurses need to be aware of the limitations of the measurement instruments they use. Consequently, nurses need to have some understanding about the psychometric domains of measurement instruments and their associated measurement properties, as well as the quality criteria used for evaluating these measurement properties. Through discussing these aspects this paper aids frontline nurses and nurse researchers in critiquing the research literature regarding an instrument’s psychometric properties. This paper equips nurses for making informed decisions when evaluating whether an instrument is suitable for use.


What is already known about the topic?



  • There is the possibility that nurses are using measurement instruments that have not been validated in their patient population.

  • A measurement instrument’s psychometric properties should be re-established when used in a different patient population or context to the index study.


What this paper adds:



  • This paper provides nurses and nurse researchers with the necessary information for critiquing the research literature regarding an instrument’s psychometric properties.

  • This paper equips nurses to make informed decisions for effecting change in deciding whether an instrument is suitable for use.

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