Background: The aging population is increasingly faced with daily life limitations, threatening their Functional Independence (FI). These limitations extend different life domains and require a broad range of community-care professionals to be addressed. The Decision Support Tool for Functional Independence (DST-FI) facilitates community-care professionals in providing uncontradictory recommendations regarding the maintenance of FI in community-dwelling older people. The current study aims to determine the validity and reliability of the DST-FI.
Methods: Sixty community-care professionals completed a twofold assessment. To assess construct validity, participants were asked to assign predefined recommendations to fifty cases of older people to maintain their level of FI. Hypotheses were tested regarding the expected recommendations per case. Content validity was assessed by questions on relevance, comprehensiveness, and comprehensibility of the current set of recommendations. Twelve participants repeated the assessment after two weeks to enable both within- and between rater reliability properties, expressed by an Intraclass Correlation Coefficient.
Results: Seven out of eight predefined hypotheses confirmed expectations, indicating high construct validity. As the recommendations were indicated 'relevant' and 'complete', content validity was high as well. Agreement between raters was poor to moderate while agreement within raters was moderate to excellent, resulting in moderate overall reliability.
Conclusion: The DST-FI suggests high validity and moderate reliability properties when used in a population of community-dwelling older people. The tool could facilitate community-care professionals in their task to preserve FI in older people. Future research should focus on psychometric properties like feasibility, acceptability, and developing and piloting strategies for implementation in community-care.