Background: A rating scale is a critical component of patient-reported outcome instrument design, but the optimal rating scale format for pediatric use has not been investigated. We compared rating scale performance when administering potential questionnaire items to children with eye disorders and their parents. Methods: Three commonly used rating scales were evaluated: frequency (never, sometimes, often, always), severity (not at all, a little, some, a lot), and difficulty (not difficult, a little difficult, difficult, very difficult). Ten patient-derived items were formatted for each rating scale, and rating scale testing order was randomized. Both child and parent were asked to comment on any problems with, or a preference for, a particular scale. Any confusion about options or inability to answer was recorded. Results: Twenty-one children, aged 5-17 years, with strabismus, amblyopia, or refractive error were recruited, each with one of their parents. Of the first 10 children, 4 (40%) had problems using the difficulty scale, compared with 1 (10%) using frequency, and none using severity. The difficulty scale was modified, replacing the word “difficult” with “hard.” Eleven additional children (plus parents) then completed all 3 questionnaires. No children had problems using any scale. Four (36%) parents had problems using the difficulty (“hard”) scale and 1 (9%) with frequency. Regarding preference, 6 (55%) of 11 children and 5 (50%) of 10 parents preferred using the frequency scale. Conclusions: Children and parents found the frequency scale and question format to be the most easily understood. Children and parents also expressed preference for the frequency scale, compared with the difficulty and severity scales. We recommend frequency rating scales for patient-reported outcome measures in pediatric populations.
- patient-reported outcome measure
- rating scale
- response option
ASJC Scopus subject areas