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Nursing Resources: Find Instruments, Measurements, and Tools

Instruments, How to Choose?

How choose right one?

Are you trying to find background information about a research instrument? Or are you trying to find and obtain an actual copy of the instrument?

If you need information about a research instrument, what kind of information do you need? Do you need information on the structure of the instrument, its content, its development, its psychometric reliability or validity? What do you need?

If you plan to obtain an actual copy of the instrument to use in research, you need to be concerned not only with obtaining the instrument, but also obtaining permission to use the instrument. Research instruments may be copyrighted. To obtain permission, contact the copyright holder in writing (print or email).

If someone posts a published test or instrument without the permission of the copyright holder, they may be violating copyright and could be legally liable. 

What are you trying to measure? For example, if you are studying depression, are you trying to measure the duration of depression, the intensity of depression, the change over time of the episodes, … what? The instrument must measure what you need or it is useless to you.

Factors to consider when selecting an instrument are
• Well-tested factorial structure, validity & reliability
• Availability of supportive materials and technology for entering, analyzing and interpreting results 
• Availability of normative data as a reference for evaluating, interpreting, or placing in context individual test scores
• Applicable to wide range of participants 
• Can also be used as personal development tool/exercise 
• User-friendliness & administrative ease 
• Availability; can you obtain it?
• Does it require permission from the owner to use it?
• Financial cost
• Amount of time required

Check the validity and reliability of tests and instruments. Do they really measure what they claim to measure? Do they measure consistently over time, with different research subjects and ethnic groups, and after repeated use? Research articles that used the test will often include reliability and validity data.

Finding Instruments and Measurements

How to Find a Test

Step 1. The first thing you need to do is determine what your needs are. Are you looking for a specific test? Do you need a test that measures a certain variable? Are you looking for reviews of a specific test? Are you trying to develop your own test?

Step 2. Identify what you are trying to measure. How are you defining the variable? Be sure that you have a variable that can be measured. Make sure the variable is the right scope for what you are doing; not too broad or too narrow.

Step 3. Identify measurement tools that meet the needs you've previously determined in steps one and two with the resources mentioned in this guide. Make sure the test is measuring the variable you've determined. Do you have the ability and/or instructions to administer this test? Does the test target the population you are working with? Does the test have good reliability and validity? Have you found positive reviews of this test? Is the test possible to obtain easily and/or inexpensively?

Ebling Library has created a "Health Sciences Tests & Measurements" resource guide to help you locate numerous health related tests, surveys, and measurements.  Included is a link to HAPI, PsycTests, CINAHL. Dn't forget you can search by the name of an Instrument in CINAHL by changing the drop down menu from "Search All Fields" to "Instrument".