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Circ Heart Fail. 2012 May 1;5(3):331-9. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.111.964916. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

Short and precise patient self-assessment of heart failure symptoms using a computerized adaptive test.

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  • 1Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA, USA.



Assessment of dyspnea, fatigue, and physical disability is fundamental to the monitoring of patients with heart failure (HF). A plethora of patient-reported measures exist, but most are too burdensome or imprecise to be useful in clinical practice. New techniques used for computer adaptive tests (CATs) may be able to address these problems. The purpose of this study was to build a CAT for patients with HF.


Item banks of 74 queries ("items") were developed to assess self-reported physical disability, fatigue, and dyspnea. All queries were administered to 658 adults with HF to build 3 item banks. The resulting HF-CAT was administered to 100 patients with ancillary HF (New York Heart Association I, 11%; II, 53%; III and IV, 36%). In addition, the physical function and vitality domains of the SF-36 Health Survey questionnaire, an established shortness-of-breath scale, and the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire were applied. The HF-CAT assessment took 3:09±1:52 minutes to complete and score. All HF-CAT scales demonstrated good construct validity through high correlations with the corresponding SF-36 Health Survey physical function (r=-0.87), vitality (r=-0.85), and shortness-of-breath (r=0.84) scales. Simulation studies showed a more precise measurement of all HF-CAT scales over a larger range than comparable static tools. The HF-CAT scales identified significant differences between patients classified by the New York Heart Association symptom criteria, similar to the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire.


A new CAT for patients with HF was built using modern psychometric methods. Initial results demonstrate its potential to increase the feasibility and precision of patient self-assessments of symptoms of HF with minimized respondent burden.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION- URL: Unique identifier: 1R43HL083622-01.

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