COSMIN taxonomy

VU medisch Centrum


EMGO institute for health and care research

The COSMIN taxonomy of measurement properties

A lack of consensus exists about terminology and definitions of measurement properties across the different fields that contribute to health measurement. Different uses of terminology can lead to confusion about which measurement property is assessed. Differences in definitions may lead to confusion about which concept the measurement property represents, and how it should be assessed.

In order to improve the field of assessing measurement properties, the COSMIN group performed a Delphi study in which international consensus was reached on terminology, definitions, and a taxonomy of the relationships of measurement properties of HR-PROs.

COSMIN taxonomy

click on the image 
for a larger view (pdf)

In the COSMIN taxonomy three quality domains are distinguished, i.e. reliability, validity, and responsiveness. Each domain contains one or more measurement properties.
The domain reliability contains three measurement properties: internal consistency, reliability, and measurement error. The domain validity also contains three measurement properties: content validity, construct validity and criterion validity. The domain responsiveness contains only one measurement property, which is also called responsiveness. The term and definition of the domain and measurement property responsiveness are the same, but they are distinguished in the taxonomy for reasons of clarity. Some measurement properties contain one or more aspects, that were defined separately: Content validity includes face validity, and construct validity includes structural validity, hypotheses testing and cross-cultural validity.


If you want to use the COSMIN taxonomy Figure or the Table of definitions below in other material, such a PhD thesis or article or book, you need to ask permission from the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (not from the COSMIN group) because the Figures were first published in this journal, see below.


International consensus was reached on terminology and definitions of all measurement properties included in the taxonomy. 

click on the image for a larger view (pdf)

The COSMIN taxonomy and definitions will be published soon:

Mokkink LB, Terwee CB, Patrick DL, Alonso J, Stratford PW, Knol DL, Bouter LM, de Vet HCW. International consensus on taxonomy, terminology, and definitions of measurement properties for health-related patient-reported ouctomes: results of the COSMIN study. Journal of Clinical Epidemology 2010;63:737-745.