So far, we have discussed how information from outcome measures can be applied to guide clinical decisions. We have also introduced barriers to the successful clinical implementation of outcome measures, and have suggested six strategies for overcoming these barriers. In this chapter we describe an approach for finding relevant outcome measures and suggest criteria for evaluating them.
Finding Potential Outcome Measures of Interest for Your Unique Setting
We begin by describing an approach to locating potential outcome measures of interest and demonstrate an example of its implementation. The first step when seeking a relevant measure is to carefully construct a statement identifying your requirements for the measure. This statement is used to guide your search and subsequent decisions concerning the appropriateness of the candidate measures.
Once you have declared the measure's intended purpose and described your unique patients and clinical setting, administration and scoring considerations, and feasibility issues, the next step is to decide on the starting point for locating the measures. The starting point will vary depending on your knowledge of the breadth of outcome measures specific to your needs. Knowing the names of potential candidate measures is essential. If you are unaware of the names, finding a relevant measure may at first seem an overwhelming task. If this is the case, a number of options exist. Try searching Google Scholar or a database of outcome measures. Consult textbooks that list and describe outcome measures. Seek assistance from a colleague or your professional association. The following box lists examples of several databases and textbooks containing information on outcome measures.
Some Resources for Identifying Potential Outcome Measures
Google Scholar http://scholar.google.ca/
Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy (CEBP), Maastricht
Patient-Reported Outcome and Quality of Life Instruments Database
Rehabilitation Measures Database
StrokEngine Assess (specific to outcome measures specific to stroke)
Transport Accident Commission of Australia
McDowell I. Measuring Health: A Guide to Rating Scales and Questionnaires, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2006.
Finch E, Brooks D, Stratford PW, Mayo NE. Physical Rehabilitation Outcome Measures: A Guide to Enhanced Clinical Decision Making, 2nd ed. Hamilton: BC Decker Inc; 2002.
Having identified one or more potential measures, the next step is to locate detailed information. Often, textbooks and databases do not include up-to-date information and one must turn to research studies. Accordingly, an effective and efficient literature search is required. Popular bibliographic databases and search engines include PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Excerpta Medica (EMBASE), and Google Scholar.
PubMed is a freely accessible service offered by the National Library of Medicine of the United States and it includes over 18 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez)
CINAHL is a comprehensive collection of nursing and allied health literature. CINAHL offers a free trial; however, for sustained use ...