Background: Many patient-based knee-rating scales are available for the evaluation of athletic patients. However, there is little information on the measurement properties of these instruments and therefore no evidence to sup- port the use of one questionnaire rather than another. The goal of the present study was to determine the reliabil- ity, validity, and responsiveness of four knee-rating scales commonly used for the evaluation of athletic patients: the Lysholm scale, the subjective components of the Cincinnati knee-rating system, the American Academy of Or- thopaedic Surgeons sports knee-rating scale, and the Activities of Daily Living scale of the Knee Outcome Survey.
Methods: All patients in the study had a disorder of the knee and were active in sports (a Tegner score of ≥4 points). Forty-one patients who had a knee disorder that had stabilized and who were not receiving treatment were administered all four questionnaires at baseline and again at a mean of 5.2 days (range, two to fourteen days) later to test reliability. Forty-two patients were administered the scales at baseline and at a minimum of three months after treatment to test responsiveness. The responses of 133 patients at baseline were studied to test construct validity.
Results: The reliability was high for all scales, with the intraclass correlation coefficient ranging from 0.88 to 0.95. As for construct validity, the correlations among the knee scales ranged from 0.70 to 0.85 and those be- tween the knee scales and the physical component scale of the Short Form-36 (SF-36) and the patient and clini- cian severity ratings ranged from 0.59 to 0.77. Responsiveness, measured with the standardized response mean, ranged from 0.8 for the Cincinnati knee-rating system to 1.1 for the Activities of Daily Living scale.
Conclusions: All four scales satisfied our criteria for reliability, validity, and responsiveness, and all are accept- able for use in clinical research.