Affiliations: Division of Biostatistics, University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, Houston, TX, USA | Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA | Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Note:  Correspondence to: Barbara C. Tilley, Ph.D., Division of Biostatistics, University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, 1200 Pressler Drive, RAS 833E, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel.: +1 713 500 9564; Fax: +1 713 500 9525; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Background: Cognitive pretesting, a qualitative step in scale development, precedes field testing and assesses the difficulty of instrument completion for examiners and respondents. Cognitive pretesting assesses respondent interest, attention span, discomfort, and comprehension, and highlights problems with the logical structure of questions/response options that can affect understanding. In the past this approach was not consistently used in the development or revision of movement disorders scales. Methods: We applied qualitative cognitive pretesting using testing guides in development of the Movement Disorder Society-sponsored revision of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS). The guides were based on qualitative techniques, verbal probing and “think-aloud” interviewing, to identify problems with the scale from the patient and rater perspectives. English-speaking Parkinson's disease patients and movement disorders specialists (raters) from multiple specialty clinics in the United States, Western Europe and Canada used the MDS-UPDRS and completed the testing guides. Results: Two rounds of cognitive pretesting were necessary before proceeding to field testing of the revised scale to assess clinimetric properties. Scale revisions based on cognitive pretesting included changes in phrasing, simplification of some questions, and addition of a reassuring statement explaining that not all PD patients experience the symptoms described in the questions. Conclusions: The strategy of incorporating cognitive pretesting into scale development and revision provides a model for other movement disorders scales. Cognitive pretesting is being used in translating the MDS-UPDRS into multiple languages to improve comprehension and acceptance and in the development of a new Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale for Parkinson's disease patients.