The multi-faceted assessment of independence in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: Preliminary validation from the ATTAIN study

Afton L. Hassett, Tracy Li, Steven Buyske, Shantal V. Savage, Monique A.M. Gignac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To consider the feasibility of assessing multiple facets of independence in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using a measure developed from existing items and examining its face validity, construct validity and responsiveness to change. Methods: The ATTAIN (Abatacept Trial in Treatment of Anti-tumor necrosis factor [TNF] Inadequate responders) database was used. Patients with RA were randomized 2:1, abatacept (n = 258) and placebo (n = 133). A multi-faceted scale to measure physical and psychosocial independence was constructed using items from the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36). Questions assessing activity limitations and need for outside caregiver help were also examined. Interviews with 20 RA patients assessed face validity. Results: Item Response Theory analysis yielded two traits - 'Psychosocial Independence', derived from the number of days with activity limitations plus the Role Emotional, Social Functioning and Role Physical subscale items from the SF-36; and 'Physical Independence', derived from 15 HAQ items assessing need for help from another. The two traits showed no significant differential item functioning for age or gender and demonstrated good face validity. Changes over 169 days on Psychosocial Independence were greater (mean 0.46 units, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.17-0.75) for the abatacept group than for placebo (p = 0.002). Changes in Physical Independence were greater (mean 0.59 units, 95% CI: 0.35-0.82) for the abatacept group than for placebo (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The multi-faceted assessment of independence in RA based on items from commonly used instruments is feasible suggesting promise for evaluating independence in future clinical trials. This approach demonstrated good face and construct validity and responsiveness in RA patients who had previously failed anti-TNF therapy. However, we caution against an interpretation that these data suggest that abatacept improves independence because the component parts of this assessment came from instruments used in the ATTAIN trial where data had been previously analyzed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1453
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Medical Research and Opinion
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Abatacept
  • Disability
  • Independence
  • Outcome measures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


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