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Psychometric properties of light touch-pressure somatosensory measures in adults with neurological disorders: A systematic review.

OBJECTIVES: To critically appraise the psychometric properties of light touch-pressure somatosensory assessments to provide guidance for tool selection for research or clinical purposes.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, CINAHL, and PsycInfo were searched for research indexed from January 1990-November 2022. English language and human subject filters were applied. "Somatosensation", "psychometric property", and "nervous system-based health condition" search terms were combined. Grey literature and manual searches were conducted to ensure thoroughness.

REVIEW METHODS: The reliability, construct validity, and/or measurement error of light touch-pressure assessments was reviewed in adult populations with neurological disorders. Reviewers individually extracted and managed data including patient demographics, assessment characteristics, statistical methods, and psychometric properties. Methodological quality of results was evaluated using an adapted version of the COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments checklist.

RESULTS: Thirty-three of 1938 articles were included for review. Fifteen light touch-pressure assessments demonstrated good or excellent reliability. Further, five of those 15 assessments achieved adequate validity and one of the 15 assessments achieved adequate measurement error. Over 80% of the summarized study ratings were determined to be of low or very low quality.

CONCLUSION: We recommend using electrical perceptual tests, the Semmes-Weinstein Monofilaments, the Graded and Redefined Assessment of Strength, Sensibility, and Prehension, and the Moving Touch Pressure Test given that they demonstrated good to excellent results in three psychometric properties. No other assessment achieved adequate ratings in more than two psychometric properties. This review highlights a fundamental need to develop sensory assessments that are reliable, valid, and sensitive to change.

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