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Patient specific functional scale.


Improving function in activities that are meaningful to our patients is an important role for physiotherapists. The Patient Specific Functional Score (PSFS) is an outcome measure which assists in identifying activities impaired by illness or injury and provides a measure of clinical outcome that has been shown to be valid and sensitive for many musculoskeletal conditions.

The PSFS is generally included as part of the subjective examination and it is quick to apply in both the initial and, more importantly for busy clinicians, the subsequent assessment. In pain-focused patients the PSFS is useful to redirect questioning towards function and ability rather than pain and disability. Clinically the PSFS is simple to administer and does not require the subtle nuances to rank, unlike disabilities questionnaires. This is especially important to patients where English is a second language.

It is advantageous to assist the patient to select activities they are likely to perform prior to the subsequent assessment so that a comparison may be drawn. If treatment is being directed towards a work-related injury it is important that occupational activities are included to align with the broader goal of return to work. It is also of benefit to nominate a period of time when including static activities, such as 30 minutes of sitting, and record this for a specific chair so that accurate comparison may be performed in the future.

Clinicians should be aware that while the PSFS is able to be applied to many areas of the body is has not yet been shown to be valid for all musculoskeletal conditions. The minimal detectable change (90% CI) for an average score is 2 points, and 3 points for a single activity score (Stratford 1995).

David Brentnall

Axis Rehabilitation, Brisbane


Chatman A (1997) Phys Ther 77:820-829.

Cleland J (2006) Spine 31: 598-602.

Pengel L (2004) Spine 29: 879-883.

Stratford P (1995) Physiother Can 47: 258-263.

Westaway M (1998) JOSPT 27: 331-338.

Michele Sterling

The University of Queensland
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Title Annotation:Appraisal: Clinimetrics
Author:Sterling, Michele
Publication:Australian Journal of Physiotherapy
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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