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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1999 Dec;54(12):M641-7.

An individualized approach to outcome measurement in geriatric rehabilitation.

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Southwestern Ontario Regional Geriatric Program, St. Joseph's Health Centre-Parkwood Site, London, Ontario, Canada.



The heterogeneity of health problems experienced by frail elderly patients makes it difficult to use a single standard measure to evaluate multiple outcomes of geriatric rehabilitation. Commonly, several measures are used, but an alternative is to use an individualized measure such as Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS). This study investigated the reliability, validity, and responsiveness of GAS as an outcome measure in geriatric rehabilitation.


We studied 173 consecutive admissions (mean age 81; 77% female; mean length of stay 33 days) to a geriatric rehabilitation unit. Assessment instruments were completed at admission and discharge. Individualized treatment goals were identified for each patient by using GAS; standardized measures included self-rated health, a global clinical assessment, the Barthel Index, the OARS IADL scale, the Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), and the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP).


Mobility, future care arrangements, and functional impairment were the most commonly identified GAS goal areas. The interrater reliability of the GAS discharge score was 0.93. The GAS discharge score correlated strongly (r> or =0.50) with the standardized measures, except for self-rated health, the MMSE, and the NHP (r> or =0.31). GAS was more responsive to change than any of the standardized measures. The GAS score was used to derive receiver operating characteristic curves for other measures; this can provide insight into the interpretation of clinically important outcomes.


GAS appears to be a feasible, reliable, valid, and responsive approach to outcome measurement in geriatric rehabilitation.

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