The Quick Physical Activity Rating (QPAR) scale: A brief assessment of physical activity in older adults with and without cognitive impairment

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Introduction Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) currently affect over 5.7 million Americans and over 35 million people worldwide. At the same time, over 31 million older adults are physically inactive with impaired physical performance interfering with activities of daily living. Low physical activity is a risk factor for ADRD. We examined the utility of a new measure, the Quick Physical Activities Rating (QPAR) as an informant-rated instrument to quantify the dosage of physical activities in healthy controls, MCI and ADRD compared with Gold Standard assessments of objective measures of physical performance, fitness, and functionality. Methods This study analyzed 390 consecutive patient-caregiver dyads who underwent a comprehensive evaluation including the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), mood, neuropsychological testing, caregiver ratings of patient behavior and function, and a comprehensive physical performance and gait assessment. The QPAR was completed prior to the office visit and was not considered in the clinical evaluation, physical performance assessment, staging or diagnosis of the patient. Psychometric properties including item variability and distribution, floor and ceiling effects, strength of association, known-groups performance, and internal consistency were determined. Results The patients had a mean age of 75.3±9.2 years, 15.7±2.8 years of education and were 46.9% female. The patients had a mean CDR-SB of 4.8±4.7 and a mean MoCA score of 18.6±7.1 and covered a range of healthy controls (CDR 0 = 54), MCI or very mild dementia (CDR 0.5 = 161), mild dementia (CDR 1 = 92), moderate dementia (CDR 2 = 64), and severe dementia (CDR 3 = 29). The mean QPAR score was 20.2±18.9 (range 0–132) covering a wide range of physical activity. The QPAR internal consistency (Cronbach alpha) was very good at 0.747. The QPAR was correlated with measures of physical performance (dexterity, grip strength, gait, mobility), physical functionality rating scales, measures of activities of daily living and comorbidities, the UPDRS, and frailty ratings (all p < .001). The QPAR report of physical activities was able to discriminate between individuals with impaired physical functionality (32.2±23.9 vs 15.2±13.8, p < .001), falls risk (28.4±21.6 vs. 14.5±13.2, p < .001), and the presence of frailty (28.1±22.7 vs. 11.8±9.4, p < .001). The QPAR showed strong psychometric properties and excellent data quality, and worked equally well across different patient ages, sexes, informant relationships, and in individuals with and without cognitive impairment. Discussion The QPAR is a brief detection tool that captures informant reports of physical activities and differentiates individuals with normal physical functionality from those individuals with impaired physical functionality. The QPAR correlated with Gold Standard assessments of strength and sarcopenia, activities of daily living, gait and mobility, fitness, health related quality of life, frailty, global physical performance, and provided good discrimination between states of physical functionality, falls risk, and frailty. The QPAR performed well in comparison to standardized scales of objective physical performance, but in a brief fashion that could facilitate its use in clinical care and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0241641
JournalPloS one
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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