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Common Assessment Tool (CAT): A linguistically validated questionnaire in six languages (with Users’ Manual) for a standardised assessment of: carer’s conditions and caring experience

The Common Assessment Tool is a family carer assessment package validated into six languages (English, German, Greek, Swedish, Italian, Polish), by means of a back translation and cross-cultural face-to-face validation. The tool incorporates information on both negative and positive aspects of caregiving as perceived by the carer, physical and mental health status of the cared for older person, contents and intensity of care provided, utilisation and costs of care services as well as preference towards them.

The package includes further a Users’ Manual, an Interviewer Training Manual and a Coding Guide. It was developed over a period of several months, and comprises items and scales that were developed by the partners specifically for this project, or selected for use from among a range of standardised and validated published instruments.

Development was achieved through a series of meetings involving representatives of all partners, database searching for published instruments and evidence of validity/reliability, and extensive discussion via email. Once items/instruments had been selected, their availability in partner languages was determined. Where equivalent versions were not available in all languages, back translation was performed following established protocols. Formatting of the CAT took place, and the draft questionnaire was tested in two pilot studies carried out in each partner country.

Following the first pilot study, substantial revision to the CAT occurred. The second pilot study indicated the need for further minor revision. The final instrument therefore represents a third version of the original. Items and instruments were developed by the partners or selected from the research literature with reference to a model of carer service use and quality of life as a guiding framework, derived from the work of Aneshensel and colleagues (Aneshensel et al., 1995). The model conceptualises the relationship between constructs that are hypothesised to impact on carer and elder service use and carer quality of life.

Following further development, the constructs were operationalised in the CAT via a series of variable categories: Elder’s demographic and background characteristics; Elder’s disability and need; Carer’s demographic and background characteristics; Carer’s caregiving situation; Carer quality of life (QoL); Financial circumstances; Service use; Characteristics and quality of services. In addition, some variables in the CAT addressed issues related to the administration of the questionnaire. The CAT also included a project consent form. Finally, each EUROFAMCARE partner was allowed to include a small number of country-specific items in their own version of the CAT.

With regard to the follow-up questionnaire (CAT-FUQ), it drew substantially on the CAT instrument used in the first wave, in order that comparison between the two waves of data would be most optimally affected. Its development involved initially the selection of items and scales from the CAT considered essential in order to understand the change in circumstances among our carer sample between the first and second wave of data collection. In this respect, the same variable categories as obtained for the CAT also applied for the CAT-FUQ: Elder’s demographic and background characteristics; Elder’s disability and need; Carer’s demographic and background characteristics; Carer’s caregiving situation; Carer quality of life (QoL); Financial circumstances; Service use; Characteristics and quality of services.
To maximise comparability, items and scales selected from the CAT for inclusion in the CAT-FUQ were altered only if a) problems had been found in their original administration, and/or b) it was necessitated as a result of a change in mode of administration between the two waves.

Some new items were also included on the basis of issues emerging from the first wave of data. Each EUROFAMCARE partner was furthermore allowed to include a small number of country-specific items in their own version of the CAT-FUQ. Following the development of the CAT-FUQ, the draft questionnaire was finally tested in a pilot study carried out in each partner country.

Reported by

Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing
Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Community Sciences Centre, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road
S5 7AU Sheffield
United Kingdom
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