Computerized adaptive testing--ready for ambulatory monitoring

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Computers, Handheld; Humans; Monitoring, Ambulatory; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Patient Satisfaction; *Psychometrics; *Self Report; *Software; *User-Computer Interface


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


BACKGROUND: Computerized adaptive tests (CATs) have abundant theoretical advantages over established static instruments, which could improve ambulatory monitoring of patient-reported outcomes (PROs). However, an empirical demonstration of their practical benefits is warranted.

METHODS: We reviewed the literature and evaluated existing data to discuss the potential of CATs for use in ambulatory monitoring outside clinical facilities.

RESULTS: Computerized adaptive tests are not being used for ambulatory monitoring, but initial results from their use in health care research allow for discussion of some issues relevant to ambulatory care. Evidence shows that CATs can capture the most relevant health outcomes as well as established static tools, with substantially decreased respondent burden. They can be more precise than static tools of similar length and can reduce floor and ceiling effects. Computerized adaptive tests can reliably measure a construct over time with different items, which yields the potential of introducing item exposure control in ambulatory monitoring. Studies have shown that CATs can be at least as valid as well-designed static tools in group comparisons, but further investigation is needed to determine whether psychometric advantages lead to increased responsiveness of CATs.

CONCLUSIONS: Ambulatory monitoring of PROs demands short, yet very precise measurements, which can be repeated up to many times a day. Computerized adaptive tests may address several present shortcomings in ambulatory monitoring of PROs efficiently. However, most CAT developments have primarily focused on psychometric improvements. To use the full potential of CATs for ambulatory monitoring purposes, content must also be carefully considered.

DOI of Published Version



Psychosom Med. 2012 May;74(4):338-48. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychosomatic medicine

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed