• response tree;
  • standardized scales;
  • symptoms;
  • utility;
  • psychometric properties


Imbedding a response tree into self-report scales is a strategy recommended to improve item comprehension and reduce burden in older adults. However, researchers have posed potential utility, validity, and reliability limitations to this strategy that have not been examined in the clinical setting. We evaluated the effect of the response tree format (RTF) on the psychometric properties and utility of three scales measuring symptoms in 86 rehabilitation inpatients. The RTF had little effect on the scales' psychometric properties or utility. Time to complete the scales differed for one scale only. The two formats manifested comparable levels of utility, reliability, and validity in the study sample, and may be used with older adults who experience difficulty responding to the original scales. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 34:508–519, 2011