FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

What Do Outcome Measures Measure?

Written by Selena Horner | May 25, 2015 10:00:00 AM

In my family, it is ridiculously obvious that for pretty much every joke there is a bit of truth. At times, our kids can be quite creative in the jokes they create based on some of the stupid things I do. 

I've seen this image a few times via social media. If my family is right about jokes and the bit of truth, someone needs to step up and talk about this - and for today, I'll begin the conversation.

photo credit meme: Sarah Haag, PT

I talk and use outcome measures a lot. In the rehabilitation world, professionally we have two options for outcome measures: performance based and self-report outcome measures.

What are we measuring?

For performance based measures, we may or may not be measuring a single item or factor. It seems most of us tend to believe these measures are more "objective" in nature. We have to remember these measures are typically performed in a controlled environment and are quite context specific. Performance based measures are generally measured by us via observation and rating or timing a particular activity or group of activities. These measures may have rater subjectivity built into them dependent upon our observational skills and/or interpretation of items to be rated. Performance based measures were created to document our perspective of the patient's ability to perform a defined activity.

For self-report measures, we are measuring the patient's perception. This type of measure relies on patients being honest. Sure, there may be some level of inaccuracies with these types of measures because inherently, humans have not perfected their ability to introspectively assess themselves with complete accuracy. With self-report measures the level of the patient's understanding or interpretation of a question or statement plays a role in responses. If the self-report measure involves rating scales, the interpretation of the scale points may affect the response. 

So, to set the record straight, self-report outcome measures do not measure performance. Self-report outcome measures do not tell us the exact reason as to why a patient has a particular self-report measurement score. A self-report measure tells you how a patient perceives his/herself.

Think of your typical day... think of how you interact with patients... think of the conversations you have... think of the activities you have your patients perform.... now ask yourself this - do you alter your patient's perceptions? Perceptions are real; perceptions can be changed.

What do you think self-report outcome measures measure?

Until next time,

~Selena