Professor David Andrich from Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, held a Lecture at the Maugeri Foundation in Pavia, Italy, on June 3rd 2002. The Lecture was entitled "Fundamental measurement: principles and practice of Rasch analysis," and it was nested within a half-day conference entitled "Rasch analysis: the same meter from Human Sciences to Medicine: a meeting with David Andrich."
The Salvatore Maugeri Foundation is the largest Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in Italy (www.fsm.it). Luigi Tesio, M.D., from the Italian Chapter of the IOM, is heading there a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit.
Some 150 persons attended, coming from all parts of Italy. About half of them came from a mathematical-statistical background, while the other half was made up by physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists: apparently, quite a heterogeneous audience. It was a hard challenge to tell something interesting, yet technically elevated, to either of the halves.
The conference was opened by Prof. Giorgio Vittadini, Director of the Center for Research on Services to the Persons, which is co-sponsored by five Italian Universities. The Center studies the optimization of services such as health care, social assistance, education, and urban life planning. It soon captured the enormous strength of Rasch modeling in the construction of valid scientific measures of person-based variables.
David Andrich introduced the concepts of fundamental measurement. His presentation enabled statisticians to appreciate the originality of the mathematics (basically, the "prescriptive" rather than "descriptive" nature of the model), yet simultaneously health care and education professionals perceived the versatility of the model in constructing person variables. The clue to this success was the emphasis Professor Andrich placed on the philosophical thinking lying behind the mathematics themselves, i.e., what counting and measuring are, why we need to challenge the data with a model , not adapting the model to data, etc.). This allowed the whole audience to perceive the possibility of a measurement paradigm with equally validity for the hard sciences and psychology, education and medicine.
Luigi Tesio, the third and last speaker, focused on the very practical uses of the Rasch model in Rehabilitation Medicine. He presented examples of variables he had constructed through Rasch modeling, and their applications to the management of rehabilitation units.
Rasch modeling was not unknown in Italy; but, it was generally felt that this Conference helped bridge the gaps between different users and opened the door for new ones.
Luigi Tesio, M.D.
Report from Italy. Tesio, L. 16:2 p.876
Report from Italy. Tesio, L. Rasch Measurement Transactions, 2002, 16:2 p.876
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