Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A review of Individual Difference Measures

There have been lots of proposed individual measures concerning the elderly. Each measurement helps to test the differences in a group and a decision on the most appropriate ones to use needs to be made when assessing motor capabilities when the elderly perform the Timed ‘Up and Go’ Test. Particular differences may include the time it takes them, postural sway and jerk. Individual difference measures will help pinpoint the reasons for these differences.

When deciding upon a measure to use there are things that should be considered, particularly reliability and validity. The test might be easy to complete, however if it lacks reliability then it wouldn’t be worth doing because of the pitfalls that could result in the data obtained. Also validity is important to ensure that the measure isn’t a waste of experiment time.

In recent years frailty has been considered in research with the elderly as opposed to just age or disability being a risk factor in decreasing functional mobility. The Edmonton Frail Scale allows the assessment of many different domains such as cognition, social support and functional independence. This measure excludes only few participants (communication barriers and manual dexterity). The test is to be completed by the participant and has been described as brief, valid and reliable. Although it is easy to administer we must be aware of the possibility for incorrect answers given. Some participants may feel embarrasses when answering questions about continence for example. Nevertheless this method is a very popular one, and requires little or no specialist training to administer.

The Barthel Index is a simple index of independence and has been used in hospitals since 1955. The index includes everyday activities (feeding, bathing, and dressing) and these are scored on whether they require help or are independent. One advantage of this measure is its simplicity. It’s very easy to understand as there are strict instructions for each of the categories. It is also a useful test for assessing the progression of independence as it is carried out before and during treatment. However if we were to use this then we would need the carer or a nurse that works with the patients to give us all the necessary information on each patient.

A test that would be very easy to administer and would only need the participants to fill in a short answer sheet would be the Test Your Memory measurement. Having reviewed this method it seems a little bit patronising in places. It would be unethical to have any of the participants feel uncomfortable answering any questions. However this would be a good test for assessing cognitive function because there probably would be a difference in the results obtained from the participants.

Other measures would not be suited to our study. For example, the measurement of grip strength or the Geriatric Depression Scale. Although those suffering depression may not be suitable for the test, it is likely that they won’t need to be tested as it will already be knowledge whether they suffer depression or not.

1 comment:

  1. This is good; some minor points -

    1. The first paragraph needs tidying; the sentences are either too long and muddled, or too short with not enough information. The TUG and the individual differences measures are different things; keep them separate.

    2. Define frailty when you introduce it.

    You need references: cite all the key papers and reference them at the end.

    I'd format this a little; use bold for the test names, etc - make the post nice and readable.