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01-08-2007 | Original Paper | bijlage 1/2007

Quality of Life Research 1/2007

A comparison of three sets of criteria for determining the presence of differential item functioning using ordinal logistic regression

Quality of Life Research > bijlage 1/2007
Paul K. Crane, Laura E. Gibbons, Katja Ocepek-Welikson, Karon Cook, David Cella, Kaavya Narasimhalu, Ron D. Hays, Jeanne A. Teresi
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Sources of support: Data collection was supported by grant R01 CA 60068 (Cella). Support for these analyses for Drs. Crane and Gibbons and Ms. Narasimhalu was provided by grant K08 AG 022232 from the National Institute on Aging (Crane). Dr. Gibbons was also supported by grant P50 AG 05136 from the National Institute on Aging (Murray Raskind). Dr. Teresi was supported by the Columbia University Resource Center for Minority Aging Research (AG 15294) and the Statistical Coordinating Center for the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS), NIH Roadmap Project (AR 052177). Dr. Hays was also supported by the UCLA/DREW Project EXPORT, National Institutes of Health, National Center on Health & Health Disparities (P20-MD00148-01), and the UCLA Center for Health Improvement in Minority Elders/Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging (AG-02-004).



Several techniques have been developed to detect differential item functioning (DIF), including ordinal logistic regression (OLR). This study compared different criteria for determining whether items have DIF using OLR.


To compare and contrast findings from three different sets of criteria for detecting DIF using OLR. General distress and physical functioning items were evaluated for DIF related to five covariates: age, marital status, gender, race, and Hispanic origin.

Research design

Cross-sectional study.


1,714 patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS.


A total of 23 items addressing physical functioning and 15 items addressing general distress were selected from a pool of 154 items from four different health-related quality of life questionnaires.


The three sets of criteria produced qualitatively and quantitatively different results. Criteria based on statistical significance alone detected DIF in almost all the items, while alternative criteria based on magnitude detected DIF in far fewer items. Accounting for DIF by using demographic-group specific item parameters had negligible effects on individual scores, except for race.


Specific criteria chosen to determine whether items have DIF have an impact on the findings. Criteria based entirely on statistical significance may detect small differences that are clinically negligible.

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