Quality of Life Research

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 389–400 | Cite as

An evaluation of the structural validity of the shoulder pain and disability index (SPADI) using the Rasch model

  • Christina Jerosch-Herold
  • Rachel Chester
  • Lee Shepstone
  • Joshua I. Vincent
  • Joy C. MacDermid



The shoulder pain and disability index (SPADI) has been extensively evaluated for its psychometric properties using classical test theory (CTT). The purpose of this study was to evaluate its structural validity using Rasch model analysis.


Responses to the SPADI from 1030 patients referred for physiotherapy with shoulder pain and enrolled in a prospective cohort study were available for Rasch model analysis. Overall fit, individual person and item fit, response format, dependence, unidimensionality, targeting, reliability and differential item functioning (DIF) were examined.


The SPADI pain subscale initially demonstrated a misfit due to DIF by age and gender. After iterative analysis it showed good fit to the Rasch model with acceptable targeting and unidimensionality (overall fit Chi-square statistic 57.2, p = 0.1; mean item fit residual 0.19 (1.5) and mean person fit residual 0.44 (1.1); person separation index (PSI) of 0.83. The disability subscale however shows significant misfit due to uniform DIF even after iterative analyses were used to explore different solutions to the sources of misfit (overall fit (Chi-square statistic 57.2, p = 0.1); mean item fit residual 0.54 (1.26) and mean person fit residual 0.38 (1.0); PSI 0.84).


Rasch Model analysis of the SPADI has identified some strengths and limitations not previously observed using CTT methods. The SPADI should be treated as two separate subscales. The SPADI is a widely used outcome measure in clinical practice and research; however, the scores derived from it must be interpreted with caution. The pain subscale fits the Rasch model expectations well. The disability subscale does not fit the Rasch model and its current format does not meet the criteria for true interval-level measurement required for use as a primary endpoint in clinical trials. Clinicians should therefore exercise caution when interpreting score changes on the disability subscale and attempt to compare their scores to age- and sex-stratified data.


Rasch model Shoulder pain and disability index Psychometrics 



CJH and RC were funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR Senior Research Fellowship and NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship, respectively). The funders of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the report. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health. The authors certify that they have no affiliations with or financial involvement in any organisation or entity with a direct financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in the article. Funding was provided by Research Trainees Coordinating Centre (Grant Nos. SRF-2012-05-119 and CAT-CDRF 10-008).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This paper is based on a secondary analysis of data. The original study was approved by the National Research Ethics Service, East of England - Norfolk, UK, July 2011 (Reference 11/EE/0212). All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Norwich Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  3. 3.School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Lifemark PhysiotherapyLondonCanada
  5. 5.School of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Health SciencesWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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