Developing a short-form version of the HIV Disability Questionnaire (SF-HDQ) for use in clinical practice: a Rasch analysis

Kelly K O'Brien, Mendwas Dzingina, Richard Harding, Wei Gao, Eve Namisango, Lisa Avery, Aileen M Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Disability is an increasingly important health-related outcome to consider as more individuals are now aging with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and multimorbidity. The HIV Disability Questionnaire (HDQ) is a patient-reported outcome measure (PROM), developed to measure the presence, severity and episodic nature of disability among adults living with HIV. The 69-item HDQ includes six domains: physical, cognitive, mental-emotional symptoms and impairments, uncertainty and worrying about the future, difficulties with day-to-day activities, and challenges to social inclusion. Our aim was to develop a short-form version of the HIV Disability Questionnaire (SF-HDQ) to facilitate use in clinical and community-based practice among adults living with HIV. Methods: We used Rasch analysis to inform item reduction using an existing dataset of adults living with HIV in Canada (n = 941) and Ireland (n = 96) who completed the HDQ (n = 1037). We evaluated overall model fit with Cronbach’s alpha and Person Separation Indices (PSIs) (≥ 0.70 acceptable). Individual items were evaluated for item threshold ordering, fit residuals, differential item functioning (DIF) and unidimensionality. For item threshold ordering, we examined item characteristic curves and threshold maps merging response options of items with disordered thresholds to obtain order. Items with fit residuals > 2.5 or less than − 2.5 and statistically significant after Bonferroni-adjustment were considered for removal. For DIF, we considered removing items with response patterns that varied according to country, age group (≥ 50 years versus < 50 years), and gender. Subscales were considered unidimensional if ≤ 5% of t-tests comparing possible patterns in residuals were significant. Results: We removed 34 items, resulting in a 35-item SF-HDQ with domain structure: physical (10 items); cognitive (3 items); mental-emotional (5 items); uncertainty (5 items); difficulties with day-to-day activities (5 items) and challenges to social inclusion (7 items). Overall models’ fit: Cronbach’s alphas ranged from 0.78 (cognitive) to 0.85 (physical and mental-emotional) and PSIs from 0.69 (day-to-day activities) to 0.79 (physical and mental-emotional). Three items were rescored to achieve ordered thresholds. All domains demonstrated unidimensionality. Three items with DIF were retained because of their clinical importance. Conclusion: The 35-item SF-HDQ offers a brief, comprehensive disability PROM for use in clinical and community-based practice with adults living with HIV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)6
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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