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Arthritis Res Ther. 2012 Mar 8;14(2):R52. doi: 10.1186/ar3765.

Moving instead of asking? Performance-based tests and BASFI-questionnaire measure different aspects of physical function in ankylosing spondylitis.

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Reade, Centre for Rehabilitation and Rheumatology, Dr, Jan van Breemenstraat 2, PO Box 58271, 1040 HG Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is characterised by limitations in physical function. The Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI) is considered to be the gold-standard to assess physical function in AS patients. However, the BASFI questionnaire is a self-reported outcome measure and susceptible to subjective interpretation (under- or over-estimation). More objective outcome measures, like performance-based tests, could provide an objective outcome measurement for the evaluation of limitations in physical function. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to determine the association between performance-based measures and the BASFI questionnaire.


In this cross-sectional study 126 AS patients completed the BASFI questionnaire and eight performance-based tests based on BASFI-items. Each test received three scores: one for performance (time or points) and a score for exertion and pain experienced during performance (using modified Borg-scale and VAS 0-100 mm, respectively). Linear regression analyses were used to assess the associations between the BASFI questionnaire and performance-based tests.


The univariable association between performance and BASFI-score was moderate with a R-square of 0.31 and Beta of 0.56 (p's < 0.05). In a multivariable analysis, the association between performance, exertion and pain on the one hand and BASFI-score on the other was assessed; R-square increased to 0.54: the Beta's for exertion and pain during performance were 0.38 and 0.26, respectively; the Beta for performance decreased to 0.19 (p's < 0.05).


This study demonstrates that alongside actual performance, patients seem to incorporate exertion and pain in their assessment of perceived physical function on the BASFI questionnaire. Performance-based tests could provide an objective outcome measurement for the evaluation of physical function and give relevant new information in addition to the BASFI questionnaire.

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