The Autism Behavior Inventory (ABI) is an observer-reported outcome scale measuring core and associated features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Extensive scale development (reported elsewhere) took place, in alignment with the Food and Drug Administration’s patient-reported outcome guidance, to address the need for instruments to measure change and severity of ASD symptoms.
Cognitive interviewing was used to confirm understanding and content validity of the scale prior to its use in clinical trials. Respondents were caregivers of individuals with ASD (N = 50). Interviews used a hybrid of the “think-aloud” and verbal probing approach to assess ABI’s content validity and participant understanding of the instrument, including: item clarity and relevance; item interpretation; appropriateness of response scales; and clarity of instructions. Audio-recordings of the interviews were transcribed for qualitative data analysis. The scale was revised based on participant feedback and tested in a second round of interviews (round 1 N = 38, round 2 N = 12).
In total, 67/70 items reached ≥ 90% understandability across participants. Caregivers were able to select an appropriate response from the options available and reported finding the examples helpful. Based on participant feedback, instructions were simplified, 8 items were removed, and 10 items were reworded. The final revised 62-item scale was presented in round 2, where caregivers reported readily understanding the instructions, response options, and 61/62 items reached ≥ 90% understandability.
Cognitive interviews with caregivers of a diverse sample of individuals with ASD confirm the content validity and relevance of the ABI to assess core and associated symptoms of ASD.