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Phys Ther. 2013 Dec;93(12):1636-45. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20120310. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

A physical function test for use in the intensive care unit: validity, responsiveness, and predictive utility of the physical function ICU test (scored).

Author information

L. Denehy, BAppSc(Physio), GradDipPhysio(Cardiothoracic), PhD, Department of Physiotherapy, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3000.



Several tests have recently been developed to measure changes in patient strength and functional outcomes in the intensive care unit (ICU). The original Physical Function ICU Test (PFIT) demonstrates reliability and sensitivity.


The aims of this study were to further develop the original PFIT, to derive an interval score (the PFIT-s), and to test the clinimetric properties of the PFIT-s.


A nested cohort study was conducted.


One hundred forty-four and 116 participants performed the PFIT at ICU admission and discharge, respectively. Original test components were modified using principal component analysis. Rasch analysis examined the unidimensionality of the PFIT, and an interval score was derived. Correlations tested validity, and multiple regression analyses investigated predictive ability. Responsiveness was assessed using the effect size index (ESI), and the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) was calculated.


The shoulder lift component was removed. Unidimensionality of combined admission and discharge PFIT-s scores was confirmed. The PFIT-s displayed moderate convergent validity with the Timed "Up & Go" Test (r=-.60), the Six-Minute Walk Test (r=.41), and the Medical Research Council (MRC) sum score (rho=.49). The ESI of the PFIT-s was 0.82, and the MCID was 1.5 points (interval scale range=0-10). A higher admission PFIT-s score was predictive of: an MRC score of ≥48, increased likelihood of discharge home, reduced likelihood of discharge to inpatient rehabilitation, and reduced acute care hospital length of stay.


Scoring of sit-to-stand assistance required is subjective, and cadence cutpoints used may not be generalizable.


The PFIT-s is a safe and inexpensive test of physical function with high clinical utility. It is valid, responsive to change, and predictive of key outcomes. It is recommended that the PFIT-s be adopted to test physical function in the ICU.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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