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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) scale: a revised scale for contemporary palliative care clinical practice [ISRCTN81117481]

Amy P Abernethy123*, Tania Shelby-James2, Belinda S Fazekas2, David Woods4 and David C Currow12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Palliative and Supportive Services, Division of Medicine, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia

2 Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia, Australia

3 Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA

4 North Tasmanian Palliative Care Service, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

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BMC Palliative Care 2005, 4:7  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-4-7

Published: 12 November 2005

Abstract

Background

The Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) is a gold standard scale. The Thorne-modified KPS (TKPS) focuses on community-based care and has been shown to be more relevant to palliative care settings than the original KPS. The Australia-modified KPS (AKPS) blends KPS and TKPS to accommodate any setting of care.

Methods

Performance status was measured using all three scales for palliative care patients enrolled in a randomized controlled trial in South Australia. Care occurred in a range of settings. Survival was defined from enrollment to death.

Results

Ratings were collected at 1600 timepoints for 306 participants. The median score on all scales was 60. KPS and AKPS agreed in 87% of ratings; 79% of disagreements occurred within 1 level on the 11-level scales. KPS and TKPS agreed in 76% of ratings; 85% of disagreements occurred within one level. AKPS and TKPS agreed in 85% of ratings; 87% of disagreements were within one level. Strongest agreement occurred at the highest levels (70–90), with greatest disagreement at lower levels (≤40). Kappa coefficients for agreement were KPS-TKPS 0.71, KPS-AKPS 0.84, and AKPS-TKPS 0.82 (all p < 0.001). Spearman correlations with survival were KPS 0.26, TKPS 0.27 and AKPS 0.26 (all p < 0.001). AKPS was most predictive of survival at the lower range of the scale. All had longitudinal test-retest validity. Face validity was greatest for the AKPS.

Conclusion

The AKPS is a useful modification of the KPS that is more appropriate for clinical settings that include multiple venues of care such as palliative care.