Use of a 3-item short-form version of the Barthel Index for use in stroke: systematic review and external validation

Rachael L. MacIsaac, Myzoon Ali, Martin Taylor-Rowan, Helen Rodgers, Kennedy R. Lees, Terence J. Quinn*, VISTA Collaborators

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
236 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Purpose—There may be a potential to reduce the number of items assessed in the Barthel Index (BI), and shortened versions of the BI have been described. We sought to collate all existing short-form BI (SF-BI) and perform a comparative validation using clinical trial data.
Methods—We performed a systematic review across multidisciplinary electronic databases to find all published SF-BI. Our validation used the VISTA (Virtual International Stroke Trials Archive) resource. We describe concurrent validity (agreement of each SF-BI with BI), convergent and divergent validity (agreement of each SF-BI with other outcome measures available in the data set), predictive validity (association of prognostic factors with SF-BI outcomes), and content validity (item correlation and exploratory factor analyses).
Results—From 3546 titles, we found 8 articles describing 6 differing SF-BI. Using acute trial data (n=8852), internal reliability suggested redundancy in BI (Cronbach a, 0.96). Each SF-BI demonstrated a strong correlation with BI, modified Rankin Scale, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (all ρ≥=0.83; P<0.001). Using rehabilitation trial data (n=332), SF-BI demonstrated modest correlation with quality of life measures Stroke Impact Scale and 5 domain EuroQOL (ρ≥=0.50, P<0.001). Prespecified prognostic factors were associated with SF-BI outcomes (all P<0.001). Our factor analysis described a 3 factor structure, and item reduction suggested an optimal 3-item SF-BI comprising bladder control, transfer, and mobility items in keeping with 1 of the 3-item SF-BI previously described in the literature.
Conclusions—There is redundancy in the original BI; we have demonstrated internal and external validity of a 3-item SF-BI that should be simple to use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-623
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Early online date2 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Barthel Index
  • stroke
  • VISTA resource


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