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Assessing reserve-building pursuits and person characteristics: psychometric validation of the Reserve-Building Measure



A growing body of research suggests that regularly engaging in stimulating activities across multiple domains—physical, cultural, intellectual, communal, and spiritual—builds resilience. This project investigated the psychometric characteristics of the DeltaQuest Reserve-Building Measure for use in prospective research.


The study included Rare Patient Voice panel participants. The web-based survey included the Reserve-Building Measure with one-week re-test, measures of quality of life (QOL) and well-being (PROMIS General Health; NeuroQOL Cognitive Function and Positive Affect & Well-Being short-forms; Ryff Environmental Mastery subscale); and the Big Five Inventory-10 personality measure. Classical test theory and item response theory (IRT) analyses investigated psychometric characteristics of the Reserve-Building Measure.


This North American sample (n = 592) included both patients and caregivers [mean age = 44, SD 19)]. Psychometric analyses revealed distinct subscales measuring current reserve-building activities (Active in the World, Games, Outdoors, Creative, Religious/Spiritual, Exercise, Inner Life, Shopping/Cooking, Passive Media Consumption,), past reserve-building activities (Childhood Activities, Achievement), and reserve-related person-factors (Perseverance, Current and Past Social Support, and Work Value). Test–retest stability (n = 101) was moderately high for 11 of 15 subscales (ICC range 0.78–0.99); four were below 0.59 indicating a need for further refinement. IRT analyses supported the item functioning of all subscales. Correlational analyses suggest the measure’s subscales tap distinct constructs (range r = 0.11–0.46) which are not redundant with QOL, well-being, or personality (range r = 0.11–0.48).


The Reserve-Building Measure provides a measure of activities and person-factors related to reserve that may potentially be useful in prospective research.

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We are grateful to Maria Orlando Edelen, Ph.D., Brian C. Healy, Ph.D., Adri van der Wurff, Ph.D., and David Eton, Ph.D. for helpful discussions; Randi Andenaes, RN, Ph.D., Inger Utne, RN, Ph.D., Nina Misvaer, RN, PHN, and other faculty from the Oslo and Akershus University College in Oslo, Norway, and Pythia Nieuwkerk, Ph.D., from the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, for help translating, piloting the measure, and suggesting changes to ensure its cross-cultural applicability. We gratefully acknowledge Victoria Powell, M.P.H., for assistance with data management and statistical programming early in the course of this study. Drs Sprangers and Nieuwkerk were supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO 310-20-003).

How to Obtain the Reserve-Building Measure

The interested reader can obtain the DeltaQuest Reserve-Building Measure and further information about item parameters by contacting the first author (CES) and licensing the tool from DeltaQuest Foundation for a specified use and term. License fees vary, depending on the nature of the licensee organization (e.g., academic, not-for-profit, for-profit). Such fees are used to fund further measurement development by DeltaQuest Foundation for use in clinical research and practice.

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Correspondence to Carolyn E. Schwartz.

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Schwartz, C.E., Michael, W., Zhang, J. et al. Assessing reserve-building pursuits and person characteristics: psychometric validation of the Reserve-Building Measure. Qual Life Res 27, 423–436 (2018).

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  • Reserve
  • Measurement
  • Psychometrics
  • Activities
  • Person characteristics
  • Personality
  • Quality of life
  • Well-being