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More MS news articles for November 2003

Verbal fluency assessment of patients with multiple sclerosis: test-retest and inter-observer reliability

Clin Rehabil. 2003 Nov;17(7):756-64
Vlaar AM, Wade DT.
Oxford Centre for Enablement, Oxford, UK.


To establish the reliability and validity of verbal fluency testing in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).


Each patient was assessed twice 7-14 days apart on a test of phonological fluency and again 7-14 days later when half of the patients were assessed for phonological fluency by a second assessor while the other half was assessed by the first assessor using a test of semantic fluency.


A specialist young disabled unit.


Thirty-five patients with multiple sclerosis.


Phonological fluency (PF) was tested giving the patient 60 seconds to generate words starting with 'F' 'A' and 'S'; semantic fluency (SF) with names of animals and fruits.

Also used were the Short Orientation-Memory-Concentration Test and the Barthel ADL Index.


On the first occasion 31/35 patients could be tested, and the average (SD) score of the PF was 21.9 (12.1), median 18.

The test-retest reliability (n = 30/35) of the PF was good (Pearson r = 0.85).

The score difference between the first two occasions ranged from +17 to -15 (median -3, mean -2.9, SD 6.7).

The inter-observer reliability (n = 13/16) of the PF was good (Pearson r = 0.90).

The difference of the score between the two assessors ranged from -9 to +6 (median 0, mean -1.2, SD 4.9).

The correlation (Pearson) of the PF score with the SF, Barthel and SOMC was respectively r = 0.59, r = 0.27 and r = 0.63.


Phonological fluency testing is reliable in people with MS.