TitleUsing Person Fit Statistics to Detect Outliers in Survey Research.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFelt, JM, Castaneda, R, Tiemensma, J, Depaoli, S
JournalFront Psychol
Date Published2017

When working with health-related questionnaires, outlier detection is important. However, traditional methods of outlier detection (e.g., boxplots) can miss participants with "atypical" responses to the questions that otherwise have similar total (subscale) scores. In addition to detecting outliers, it can be of clinical importance to determine the reason for the outlier status or "atypical" response. The aim of the current study was to illustrate how to derive person fit statistics for outlier detection through a statistical method examining person fit with a health-based questionnaire. Patients treated for Cushing's syndrome ( = 394) were recruited from the Cushing's Support and Research Foundation's (CSRF) listserv and Facebook page. Patients were directed to an online survey containing the CushingQoL (English version). A two-dimensional graded response model was estimated, and person fit statistics were generated using the statistic. Conventional outlier detections methods revealed no outliers reflecting extreme scores on the subscales of the CushingQoL. However, person fit statistics identified 18 patients with "atypical" response patterns, which would have been otherwise missed ( > |±2.00|). While the conventional methods of outlier detection indicated no outliers, person fit statistics identified several patients with "atypical" response patterns who otherwise appeared average. Person fit statistics allow researchers to delve further into the underlying problems experienced by these "atypical" patients treated for Cushing's syndrome. Annotated code is provided to aid other researchers in using this method.

Alternate JournalFront Psychol
PubMed ID28603512
PubMed Central IDPMC5445123