Psychometric properties of body structures and functions measures in non-surgical thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis: A systematic review

Corey McGee, Kristin Valdes, Caitlin Bakker, Cindy Ivy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Measurement of treatment outcomes and change in health status over time is a critical component of clinical practice and research for people with osteoarthritis. Numerous clinical tools are used to assess the structures and function of the thumb in persons with thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis however their psychometrics have not yet been systematically explored. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the psychometric properties of clinical tools used in persons with non-surgical thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis to objectively measure thumb structures and function, evaluate the quality of such studies, and subsequently make clinical and future research recommendations. Study Design: Systematic review. Methods: A systematic search and screening was conducted across nine databases. Original research published between 2002 and 2022 that involved the assessment of psychometric properties (validity, reliability, precision, responsiveness, sensitivity, specificity, and minimal clinically important difference) of clinical tools were included. Sample characteristics, methods, and psychometric findings from each study were compiled. The methodological quality of included studies was evaluated using the COnsensus‐based Standards for the selection of health Measurement Instruments' checklist. Two independent researchers screened articles and assessed methodological quality and when not in agreement, a third party was consulted. Results: Eleven studies were included in the review. The mean age of all participants in the studies was 69 years of age. The study designs included prospective case–control, prospective cohort, and cross-sectional to determine the psychometric properties of the measurements and tools. The included studies examined techniques to assess range of motion, strength, and pain-pressure thresholds, and screen for arthritis (ie, provocative tests). The intermetacarpal distance method, Kapandji index, pain-pressure threshold test, and pain-free grip and pinch dynamometry demonstrate excellent reliability and acceptable precision. Metacarpal extension, adduction, and pressure-shear provocative tests have superior sensitivity and specificity and the extension and adduction tests have excellent reliability. Other assessments included in the review yielded less robust psychometric properties. Studies were of variable methodological quality spanning from inadequate to very good. Conclusions: Based on the available literature on the psychometric properties of assessments of body structures and functions in persons with non-operative thumb carpometacarpal osteoarthritis, we offer a limited set of recommendations for use when screening for arthritis symptomology and measuring hand strength, thumb mobility, and pain thresholds. Additional psychometric research is needed in these domains as well as in dexterity, sensation, and objective measures of hand function. Future research should employ best practices in psychometric research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • Body structures and functions
  • Carpometacarpal
  • Measurement
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Psychometrics
  • Systematic review
  • Thumb

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Journal Article


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