The creation of the Global Scales for Early Development (GSED) for children aged 0-3 years: Combining subject matter expert judgements with big data

Gareth McCray, Dana McCoy, Patricia Kariger, Magdalena Janus, Maureen M. Black, Susan M. Chang, Fahmida Tofail, Iris Eekhout, Marcus Waldman, Stef Van Buuren, Rasheda Khanam, Sunil Sazawal, Ambreen Nizar, Yvonne Schönbeck, Arsène Zongo, Alexandra Brentani, Yunting Zhang, Tarun Dua, Vanessa Cavallera, Abbie RaikesAnn M. Weber, Kieran Bromley, Abdullah Baqui, Arunangshu Dutta, Imran Nisar, Symone B. Detmar, Romuald Anago, Pacifico Mercadante, Fan Jiang, Raghbir Kaur, Katelyn Hepworth, Marta Rubio-Codina, Samuel N. Kembou, Salahuddin Ahmed, Gill A. Lancaster, Melissa Gladstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction With the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals, there is an increased emphasis on early childhood development (ECD) and well-being. The WHO led Global Scales for Early Development (GSED) project aims to provide population and programmatic level measures of ECD for 0-3 years that are valid, reliable and have psychometrically stable performance across geographical, cultural and language contexts. This paper reports on the creation of two measures: (1) the GSED Short Form (GSED-SF) - a caregiver reported measure for population-evaluation - self-administered with no training required and (2) the GSED Long Form (GSED-LF) - a directly administered/observed measure for programmatic evaluation - administered by a trained professional. Methods We selected 807 psychometrically best-performing items using a Rasch measurement model from an ECD measurement databank which comprised 66 075 children assessed on 2211 items from 18 ECD measures in 32 countries. From 766 of these items, in-depth subject matter expert judgements were gathered to inform final item selection. Specifically collected were data on (1) conceptual matches between pairs of items originating from different measures, (2) developmental domain(s) measured by each item and (3) perceptions of feasibility of administration of each item in diverse contexts. Prototypes were finalised through a combination of psychometric performance evaluation and expert consensus to optimally identify items. Results We created the GSED-SF (139 items) and GSED-LF (157 items) for tablet-based and paper-based assessments, with an optimal set of items that fit the Rasch model, met subject matter expert criteria, avoided conceptual overlap, covered multiple domains of child development and were feasible to implement across diverse settings. Conclusions State-of-the-art quantitative and qualitative procedures were used to select of theoretically relevant and globally feasible items representing child development for children aged 0-3 years. GSED-SF and GSED-LF will be piloted and validated in children across diverse cultural, demographic, social and language contexts for global use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number009827
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2023


  • Child health
  • Other study design
  • Paediatrics


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