Construct validity of the Chelsea critical care physical assessment tool: an observational study of recovery from critical illness.

North West London
Published Date: 27 Mar 2014


Intensive care unit-acquired weakness (ICU-AW) is common in survivors of critical illness, resulting in global weakness and functional deficit. Although ICU-AW is well described subjectively in the literature, the value of objective measures has yet to be established. This project aimed to evaluate the construct validity of the Chelsea Critical Care Physical Assessment tool (CPAx) by analyzing the association between CPAx scores and hospital-discharge location, as a measure of functional outcome.


The CPAx was integrated into practice as a service-improvement initiative in an 11-bed intensive care unit (ICU). For patients admitted for more than 48 hours, between 10 May 2010 and 13 November 2013, the last CPAx score within 24 hours of step down from the ICU or death was recorded (n = 499). At hospital discharge, patients were separated into seven categories, based on continued rehabilitation and care needs. Descriptive statistics were used to explore the association between ICU discharge CPAx score and hospital-discharge location.


Of the 499 patients, 171 (34.3%) returned home with no ongoing rehabilitation or care input; 131 (26.2%) required community support; 28 (5.6%) went to inpatient rehabilitation for <6 weeks; and 25 (5.0%) went to inpatient rehabilitation for >6 weeks; 27 (5.4%) required nursing home level of care; 80 (16.0%) died in the ICU, and 37 (7.4%) died in hospital. A significant difference was found in the median CPAx score between groups (P < 0.0001). Four patients (0.8%) scored full marks (50) on the CPAx, all of whom went home with no ongoing needs; 16 patients (3.2%) scored 0 on the CPAx, all of whom died within 24 hours. A 0.8% ceiling effect and a 3.2% floor effect of the CPAx is found in the ICU. Compliance with completion of the CPAx stabilized at 78% of all ICU admissions.


The CPAx score at ICU discharge has displayed construct validity by crudely discriminating between groups with different functional needs at hospital discharge. The CPAx has a limited floor and ceiling effect in survivors of critical illness. A significant proportion of patients had a requirement for postdischarge care and rehabilitation.

Evelyn Jane Corner