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Do the unlabeled response categories of the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire satisfy the monotonicity assumption of simple-summated scoring?



Half of the 21-item Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) response categories are labeled (0 = No, 1 = Very little, 5 = Very much) and half are not (2, 3, and 4). We hypothesized that the unlabeled response options would not be more likely to be chosen at some place along the scale continuum than other response options and, therefore, not satisfy the monotonicity assumption of simple-summated scoring.


We performed exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of the MLHFQ items in a sample of 1437 adults in the Better Effectiveness After Transition-Heart Failure study. We evaluated the unlabeled response options using item characteristic curves from item response theory-graded response models for MLHFQ physical and emotional health scales. Then, we examined the impact of collapsing response options on correlations of scale scores with other variables.


The sample was 46% female; 71% aged 65 or older; 11% Hispanic, 22% Black, 54% White, and 12% other. The unlabeled response options were rarely chosen. The standard approach to scoring and scores obtained by collapsing adjacent response categories yielded similar associations with other variables, indicating that the existing response options are problematic.


The unlabeled MLHFQ response options do not meet the assumptions of simple-summated scoring. Further assessment of the performance of the unlabeled response options and evaluation of alternative scoring approaches is recommended. Adding labels for response options in future administrations of the MLHFQ should be considered.

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