Study 1 examined the reliability of the ratings assigned to the performance of five sign-and-symptom items drawn from tests of motor impairment in Parkinson's disease. Patients with Parkinson's disease of varying severity performed gait, rising from chair, and hand function items. Video recordings of these performances were rated by a large sample of experienced and inexperienced neurologists and by psychology undergraduates, using a four point scale. Inter-rater reliability was moderately high, being higher for gait than hand function items. Clinical experience proved to have no systematic effect on ratings or their reliability. The idiosyncrasy of particular performances was a major source of unreliable ratings. Study 2 examined the intercorrelation of several standard rating scales, comprised of sign-and-symptom items as well as activities of daily living. The correlation between scales was high, ranging from 0.70 to 0.83, despite considerable differences in item composition. Inter-item correlations showed that the internal cohesion of the tests was high, especially for the self-care scale. Regression analysis showed that the relationship between the scales could be efficiently captured by a small selection of test items, allowing the construction of a much briefer test.
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