Clinical instruments: reliability and validity critical appraisal


  • Yolandi Brink BSc MSc (Physiotherapy),

    Corresponding author
    1. PhD Student
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  • Quinette A. Louw BSc MASP (Physiotherapy) PhD (University of South Australia)

    1. Professor and Senior Lecturer, Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa
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Mrs Yolandi Brink Division of Physiotherapy Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Stellenbosch University PO Box 19063 Tygerberg 7505 South Africa E-mail:


Rationale, aim and objectives  There is a lack of health care practitioners using objective clinical tools with sound psychometric properties. There is also a need for researchers to improve their reporting of the validity and reliability results of these clinical tools. Therefore, to promote the use of valid and reliable tools or tests for clinical evaluation, this paper reports on the development of a critical appraisal tool to assess the psychometric properties of objective clinical tools.

Method  A five-step process was followed to develop the new critical appraisal tool: (1) preliminary conceptual decisions; (2) defining key concepts; (3) item generation; (4) assessment of face validity; and (5) formulation of the final tool.

Results  The new critical appraisal tool consists of 13 items, of which five items relate to both validity and reliability studies, four items to validity studies only and four items to reliability studies. The 13 items could be scored as ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘not applicable’.

Conclusion  This critical appraisal tool will aid both the health care practitioner to critically appraise the relevant literature and researchers to improve the quality of reporting of the validity and reliability of objective clinical tools.