Quality of Life Research

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 125–136

Efficiency of static and computer adaptive short forms compared to full-length measures of depressive symptoms


    • Department of Medical Social SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Steven P. Reise
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los Angeles
  • Paul A. Pilkonis
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Ron D. Hays
    • Department of MedicineUniversity of California, Los Angeles
    • Health ProgramRAND
  • David Cella
    • Department of Medical Social SciencesNorthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

DOI: 10.1007/s11136-009-9560-5

Cite this article as:
Choi, S.W., Reise, S.P., Pilkonis, P.A. et al. Qual Life Res (2010) 19: 125. doi:10.1007/s11136-009-9560-5



Short-form patient-reported outcome measures are popular because they minimize patient burden. We assessed the efficiency of static short forms and computer adaptive testing (CAT) using data from the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) project.


We evaluated the 28-item PROMIS depressive symptoms bank. We used post hoc simulations based on the PROMIS calibration sample to compare several short-form selection strategies and the PROMIS CAT to the total item bank score.


Compared with full-bank scores, all short forms and CAT produced highly correlated scores, but CAT outperformed each static short form in almost all criteria. However, short-form selection strategies performed only marginally worse than CAT. The performance gap observed in static forms was reduced by using a two-stage branching test format.


Using several polytomous items in a calibrated unidimensional bank to measure depressive symptoms yielded a CAT that provided marginally superior efficiency compared to static short forms. The efficiency of a two-stage semi-adaptive testing strategy was so close to CAT that it warrants further consideration and study.


Computer adaptive testingPROMISItem response theoryShort formTwo-stage testing

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009