Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Barthel Index

  • Gavin WilliamsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1795




The Barthel Index (BI) measures ten functions that are important for independent living – feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing, bowel and bladder continence, toileting, transfers, mobility, and stair use. Items are weighted and scored according to their perceived importance. Higher scores indicate better performance. In the most commonly used version, the maximum score of 100 indicates full independence. Several versions of the Barthel Index and their associated scoring methods exist. Shah et al. (1989) expanded the scoring categories to improve the scale discriminability. Others have simplified the scoring system, while incorporating additional categories, to sum to a maximum of 20 points.

Historical Background

The BI evolved over a 10-year period from the mid-1950s until its publication in 1964. It was developed to permit nursing staff to assess the ability of patients with neuro-muscular and musculoskeletal disorders to care for themselves. It was one of the...

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References and Readings

  1. de Morton, N., Keating, J., & Davidson, M. (2008). Rasch analysis of the Barthel index in the assessment of hospitalized older patients after admission for an acute medical condition. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89(4), 641–647.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Mahoney, F., & Barthel, D. (1965). Functional evaluation: The Barthel index. Maryland State Medical Journal, 14, 61–65.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. McDowell, I., & Newell, C. (1996). Measuring health - a guide to rating scales and questionnaires (2nd ed.pp. 56–63). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Sangha, H., Lipson, D., Foley, N., Salter, K., Bhogal, S., Pohani, G., & Teasell, R. W. (2005). A comparison of the Barthel index and the functional independence measure as outcome measures in stroke rehabilitation: Patterns of disability scale usage in clinical trials. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 28(2), 135–139.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Shah, S., Vanclay, F., & Cooper, B. (1989). Improving the sensitivity of the Barthel index for stroke rehabilitation. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 42(8), 703–709.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Epworth Rehabilitation Centre Epworth HospitalRichmond MelbourneAustralia