The frail elderly functional assessment questionnaire: Its responsiveness and validity in alternative settings

F. Michael Gloth, Ann A. Scheve, Sanjay Shah, Rendell Ashton, Robert McKinney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the Frail Elderly Functional Assessment (FEFA) questionnaire for responsiveness (sensitivity to change) to low-level functional tasks in a frail elderly cohort and to evaluate its validity over the telephone or when administered to a caregiver proxy. Subjects: Fifty- eight elderly patients from three urban inpatient rehabilitation settings and an outpatient geriatrics center. Methods: A prospective, clinical, comparative trial. The FEFA questionnaire was administered serially. For validity, subjects were observed performing the tasks on the questionnaire within 24 hours of each interview. For responsiveness, repeat measures were performed within a 1- to 2-week period. Validity and sensitivity to change (responsiveness) of the questionnaire were determined by correlating patient responses to direct observations by rehabilitation staff. Responsiveness was also determined based on the Guyatt technique that divides clinically significant change by the normal variance, σ/(2x [mean squared error])(1/2), as well as by measures of effect size, standardized response means, and relative efficiency tests for responsiveness. To evaluate FEFA validity in alternative settings, kappa statistic and regression analyses were used based on the previously validated interviewer-administered format. Results: Responsiveness was excellent with effect size (.35), standardized response means (.48), and relative efficiency (2.67) tests as well as Guyatt (1.26). There was 83% agreement when compared with FEFA task performance. Regression between change in FEFA score versus performance testing was significant (r2 = .33; p = .01). ANOVA was significant at a p = .03 for FEFA scores at first measure in rehabilitation compared to second. Correlation for caregiver proxy administration was .92 (p ≤ .0001) and for telephone administration was .99 (p < .0001). Conclusions: The FEFA questionnaire, previously demonstrated to be reliable and valid, is sensitive to functional change (responsive) in frail elderly people. It is also valid when administered by phone or to a caregiver proxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1572-1576
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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