• Article

Improving measures of work-related physical functioning

PURPOSE: To expand content of the physical function domain of the Work Disability Functional Assessment Battery (WD-FAB), developed for the US Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability determination process.

METHODS: Newly developed questions were administered to 3532 recent SSA applicants for work disability benefits and 2025 US adults. Factor analyses and item response theory (IRT) methods were used to calibrate and link the new items to the existing WD-FAB, and computer-adaptive test simulations were conducted.

RESULTS: Factor and IRT analyses supported integration of 44 new items into three existing WD-FAB scales and the addition of a new 11-item scale (Community Mobility). The final physical function domain consisting of: Basic Mobility (56 items), Upper Body Function (34 items), Fine Motor Function (45 items), and Community Mobility (11 items) demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties.

CONCLUSIONS: The WD-FAB offers an important tool for enhancement of work disability determination. The FAB could provide relevant information about work-related functioning for initial assessment of claimants; identifying denied applicants who may benefit from interventions to improve work and health outcomes; enhancing periodic review of work disability beneficiaries; and assessing outcomes for policies, programs and services targeting people with work disability.


McDonough, C. M., Ni, P., Peterik, K., Marfeo, E. E., Marino, M. E., Meterko, M., ... Chan, L. (2017). Improving measures of work-related physical functioning. Quality of Life Research, 26(3), 789-798. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-016-1477-1

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