Item response theory evaluation of the biomedical scale of the Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale

Alessandro Chiarotto, Annette Bishop, Nadine E. Foster, Kirsty Duncan, Ebenezer Afolabi, Raymond W. Ostelo, Muirne C.S. Paap

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives The assessment of health care professionals’ attitudes and beliefs towards musculoskeletal pain is essential because they are key determinants of their clinical practice behaviour. The Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (PABS) biomedical scale evaluates the degree of health professionals’ biomedical orientation towards musculoskeletal pain and was never assessed using item response theory (IRT). This study aimed at assessing the psychometric performance of the 10-item biomedical scale of the PABS scale using IRT. Methods Two cross-sectional samples (BeBack, n = 1016; DABS; n = 958) of health care professionals working in the UK were analysed. Mokken scale analysis (nonparametric IRT) and common factor analysis were used to assess dimensionality of the instrument. Parametric IRT was used to assess model fit, item parameters, and local reliability (measurement precision). Results Results were largely similar in the two samples and the scale was found to be unidimensional. The graded response model showed adequate fit, covering a broad range of the measured construct in terms of item difficulty. Item 3 showed some misfit but only in the DABS sample. Some items (i.e. 7, 8 and 9) displayed remarkably higher discrimination parameters than others (4, 5 and 10). The scale showed satisfactory measurement precision (reliability > 0.70) between theta values -2 and +3. Discussion The 10-item biomedical scale of the PABS displayed adequate psychometric performance in two large samples of health care professionals, and it is suggested to assess group-level professionals degree of biomedical orientation towards musculoskeletal pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0202539
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2018

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