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J Clin Epidemiol. 1989;42(8):703-9.

Improving the sensitivity of the Barthel Index for stroke rehabilitation.

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  • 1Occupational Therapy, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.


The Barthel Index is considered to be the best of the ADL measurement scales. However, there are some scales that are more sensitive to small changes in functional independence than the Barthel Index. The sensitivity of the Barthel Index can be improved by expanding the number of categories used to record improvement in each ADL function. Suggested changes to the scoring of the Barthel Index, and guidelines for determining the level of independence are presented. These modifications and guidelines were applied in the assessment of 258 first stroke patients referred for inpatient comprehensive rehabilitation in Brisbane, Australia during 1984 calendar year. The modified scoring of the Barthel Index achieved greater sensitivity and improved reliability than the original version, without causing additional difficulty or affecting the implementation time. The internal consistency reliability coefficient for the modified scoring of the Barthel Index was 0.90, compared to 0.87 for the original scoring.

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