Normative PROMIS Scores in Healthy Collegiate Athletes: Establishing a Target for Return to Function in the Young Adult Athlete

Arya Minaie, David L. Bernholt, Andrew M. Block, Ronak M. Patel, Rick W. Wright, Matthew J. Matava, Jeffrey J. Nepple

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Background: The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) computer-adaptive testing (CAT) has been shown to be a valid and reliable means of assessing patient-reported outcomes. However, normal scores and distributions for a subset of a healthy young athletic population have not been established. Purpose: To establish normative PROMIS scores for the domains of Physical Function (PF-CAT), Mobility (M-CAT), Upper Extremity Function (UE-CAT), and Pain Interference (PI-CAT) and determine the frequency of floor and ceiling effects in a population of healthy collegiate athletes. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Healthy collegiate athletes (18-23 years of age) were prospectively enrolled to complete the 4 PROMIS CAT domains. Additionally, the athletes provided information regarding their age, sex, and sport(s). Mean scores (±SD) and identification of ceiling or floor effects were calculated. Ceiling and floor effects were considered significant if >15% of the participants obtained the highest or lowest possible score on a domain. Results: A total of 194 healthy athletes (mean age, 19.1 years) were included in the study: 118 (60.8%) men and 76 (39.2%) women. Mean scores were 62.9 ± 6.7 for PF-CAT, 58.2 ± 4.1 for M-CAT, 57.4 ± 5.8 for UE-CAT, and 43.2 ± 6.2 for PI-CAT. Distributions of scores for M-CAT and UE-CAT indicated strong ceiling effects by 77.3% and 66.0% of the participants, respectively. In healthy athletes, the PF-CAT differed most from the expected population-based mean score (50), with the mean being >1 SD above (62.9), without a ceiling effect observed. There were no significant sex- or age-based differences on any of the PROMIS domain scores. Conclusion: Healthy collegiate athletes scored nearly 1 SD from population-based means for all of the domains tested. M-CAT and UE-CAT demonstrated ceiling effects in more than two-thirds of healthy athletes, which may limit their utility in this population. The PF-CAT did not demonstrate floor or ceiling effects and demonstrated differences in a young adult athletic population from the population mean. The mean PF-CAT score of 62.9 can represent a target for return of function in injured athletes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System
  • pain interference
  • physical function
  • upper extremity


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