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Improving physical performance tests: time to include a psychologist
  1. Josh B Kazman,
  2. Sarah de la Motte,
  3. Timothy C Gribbin,
  4. Jeffrey Galecki,
  5. Patricia A Deuster,
  6. Francis O'Connor
  1. Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Josh B Kazman, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda 20814, Maryland, USA; josh.kazman.ctr{at}

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Hegedus and Cook recently highlighted the lack of evidence supporting physical performance tests (PPTs) in sports medicine1 and asked whether these tests would ever be validated like ‘their self-report cousins’ and ‘predict a complex and multidimensional concept such as injury’. We believe that psychometrics–as used for clinical assessment in psychology and education–may also have a role in sports medicine.

The science of psychometrics is well laid-out, encompassing a framework for clinical assessment.2–4 Developing tests requires subject-matter experts, thought, and creativity to: (1) clearly define a construct based on theory; (2) explore and catalogue how the construct is manifest; (3) develop potential items; and (4) pilot-test items and iteratively refine item-selection (figure 1).

Figure 1

A framework for clinical assessment.

If physical performance tests were developed using psychometric principles, it would amplify their reliability and their ability to predict outcomes (eg, rehabilitation success, injury risk). Most physical performance tests were created to identify one physical task correlating with some criterion (eg, biomechanics, pathology). For example, in the Landing Error …

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  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Department of the Defense, or the US Government.

  • Contributors JBK wrote an initial draft of the article, which was then discussed and refined with the other authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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