Goal Attainment Scaling

Original Editor - Lauren Heydenrych

Top Contributors - Lauren Heydenrych  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

The Shirley Ryan Abilitylab defines Goal Attainment Scaling or GAS as "an individualized outcome measure involving goal selection and goal scaling that is standardized in order to calculate the extent to which a patient's goals are met."[1]

GAS is a goal-setting technique which has a mathematical basis.[2] GAS was first introduced in the 1960s by Kirusek and Sherman. This was originally for the mental health setting. Since then it has been adapted and modified to include a variety of areas and settings.[3]

GAS is important, as it allows the various stakeholders in the rehabilitation process - and primarily the patient - involvement in the measurement and scoring of goals. GAS gives individuals the ability to construct their own outcome measures; this is in contrast to measures that are based on a standard set of tasks. Scoring, however, is performed in a standardised way which in turn allows for statistical analysis.[3]

Advantages in using GAS[edit | edit source]

  1. Encourages communication and collaboration between multidisciplinary team members.[2]
  2. Promotes patient involvement. In research cited by Turner-Stokes (2009) goals for rehabilitation are more likely achieved with the involvement of the patient and their family. In addition, more information sharing is noted at the beginning of a rehabilitation process when formalised goal setting is introduced. This in turn allows for negotiation of realistic goals.[2]

Diagnosis/Conditions which can use GAS[edit | edit source]

  • Brain injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Pain management
  • Parkinson's' Disease
  • Neurologic Rehabilitation
  • Sports and Musculoskeletal

Assessment type[edit | edit source]

Patient-reported outcomes

Description[edit | edit source]

GAS comprises of goals divided into a 5-point scale from -2 to +2.[3]

  • Achievement of goal = 0
  • Achieved somewhat more than expected outcome = +1
  • Achievement of much more than expected goal = +2
  • Achievement of somewhat less than expected goal = -1
  • Achievement of much less than expected goal = -2

As some goals may be more difficult to achieve than others and some may be more important than others, the option of weighing different goals is a possibility. A spreadsheet to help calculate goals scores, including their weighting can be found at various sites, including Assesschild.com (found in the resources list at the bottom of the page).[3]

There is no set limit to how many or how few goals can be set at any one time. However, it is recommended that 3 is a good number and a maximum of 6 is set.[2]

Procedure[edit | edit source]

1. Identify goals[3]

  • Interview patient and/or caregivers to identify a) problem areas and b) priority areas
  • Decide on a date of achievement
  • Note: Goals should follow the SMART principle.
    • Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-related.

2.Weight goals[3]

  • Done by patient ranking goals by importance or using a weighting scale. Here the team may rank or weigh goals by the expected difficulty in achieving them.

Weight = importance × difficulty

GAS weighing .png

3. Define the expected outcome[3]

  • Assign descriptors of results in each case of -2 up to +2. Each level should be as objective and observable as possible.
  • This is an opportunity to address unrealistic expectations which may be held by the patient and/or caregivers.

4. Scoring baseline

  • Usually baseline scores are rated at -1, unless there is no clinically plausible worse condition. In this case -2 is rated.

5. Goal attainment scaling[3]

Goals are reviewed at appointed dates. Here, actual performance is judged at defined levels. The ideal is to have this is performed with the team - including the family.

Baseline scores are compared with currently performed tasks.

The use of weighted values are used within a formula in order to get a standardised score. An excel spreadsheet with the formula can be found on the Assesschild website. A link is found in the resource section.

Otherwise, baseline scores can simply be compared to scores achieved on follow-up, to monitor development or deterioration.


Reliability[edit | edit source]

In the analysis of systematic reviews within the last decade, it was found that inter-rater reliability (IRR) was good, but varied according to a number of factors including:[5]

  • The person scoring - IRR improved when the physician or therapist treating the patient as well as the raters observed the patient directly, instead of a recording being watched.
  • Field in question
  • Precision of levels described

One study performed by Mailloux et al. (2007) recommended training programs and testing of inter-rater reliability to improve this aspect.[6]

Intra-rater reliability has not been commented on.

Validity[edit | edit source]

One of the criticisms of GAS is that it doesn't measure one clear construct. This is because of the individualistic nature of the goal setting. This makes validity difficult to assess. Despite this, research done in 2016[7] found that content validity produced results that were "good" or "intermediate".

Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. Goal Attainment Scale. Available from: https://www.sralab.org/rehabilitation-measures/goal-attainment-scale (accessed 09/11/2022)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Turner-Stokes L. Goal attainment scaling (GAS) in rehabilitation: a practical guide. Clinical rehabilitation. 2009 Apr;23(4):362-70.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Turner-Stokes L. Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) in rehabilitation: A practical guide. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2009 Feb [cited 2022 Nov 15];23: 362. Available from: DOI: 10.1177/0269215508101742
  4. Ardea Outcomes Inc. How does Goal Attainment Scaling work?. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCzu0h43cqo [last accessed 17/11/2022]
  5. Assesschild. Standardized Assessments for the Management of Children with Motor Disorders. Goal Attainment Scale (GAS). Available from: https://assesschild.com/goal-attainment-scale (accessed 16/11/2022)
  6. Mailloux Z, May-Benson TA, Summers CA, Miller LJ, Brett-Green B, Burke JP, Cohn ES, Koomar JA, Parham LD, Roley SS, Schaaf RC. Goal attainment scaling as a measure of meaningful outcomes for children with sensory integration disorders. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2007 Mar;61(2):254-9.
  7. Gaasterland CM, Jansen-van der Weide MC, Weinreich SS, van der Lee JH. A systematic review to investigate the measurement properties of goal attainment scaling, towards use in drug trials. BMC medical research methodology. 2016 Dec;16(1):1-22.