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BACKGROUND: The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale-Revised (ALSFRS-R) total score is a widely used measure of functional status in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Motor Neuron Disease (ALS), but recent evidence has raised doubts about its validity. The objective was to examine the measurement properties of the ALSFRS-R, aiming to produce valid measurement from all 12 scale items. METHOD: Longitudinal ALSFRS-R data were collected between 2013-2020 from 1120 people with ALS recruited from 35 centers, together with other scales in the Trajectories of Outcomes in Neurological Conditions-ALS (TONiC-ALS) study. The ALSFRS-R was analyzed by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), Rasch Analysis (RA) and Mokken scaling. RESULTS: No definite factor structure of the ALSFRS-R was confirmed by CFA. RA revealed the raw score total to be invalid even at the ordinal level because of multidimensionality; valid interval level subscale measures could be found for the Bulbar, Fine-Motor and Gross-Motor domains but the Respiratory domain was only valid at an ordinal level. All four domains resolved into a single valid, interval level measure by using a bifactor RA. The smallest detectable difference was 10.4% of the range of the interval scale. CONCLUSION: A total ALSFRS-R ordinal raw score can lead to inferential bias in clinical trial results due to its non-linear nature. On the interval level transformation, more than 5 points difference is required before a statistically significant detectable difference can be observed. Transformation to interval level data should be mandatory in clinical trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener

Publication Date



1 - 10


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale-Revised, Trajectories of Outcome in Neurological Conditions-ALS, Rasch, outcome measurement, disability