Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



Gareth McCray, Keele University
Dana McCoy, Cambridge College
Patricia Kariger, WHO
Magdalena Janus, McMaster University
Maureen M. Black, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Research Triangle Park
Susan M. Chang, The University of the West Indies
Fahmida Tofail, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh
Iris Eekhout, TNO
Marcus Waldman, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Stef van Buuren, TNO,
Rasheda Khanam, Johns Hopkins
Sunil Sazawal, Center for Public Health Kinetics
Ambreen Nizar, The Aga Khan University
Yvonne Schönbeck, TNO
Arsène Zongo, Innovations for Poverty Action
Alexandra Brentani, Universidade de Sao Paulo Faculdade de Medicina
Yunting Zhang, Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Tarun Dua, World Health Organization
Vanessa Cavallera, World Health Organization
Abbie Raikes, University of Nebraska Medical Cente
Ann M. Weber, University of Nevada Reno
Kieran Bromley, Keele University
Abdullah Baqui, Johns Hopkins University
Arunangshu Dutta, Projahnmo Research Foundation
Imran Nisar, Aga Khan University
Symone B. Detmar, TNO
Romuald Anago, Keele University
Pacifico Mercadante, Universidade de Sao Paulo Faculdade de Medicina
Fan Jiang, Jiaotong University School of Medicine
Raghbir Kaur, World Health Organization
Katelyn Hepworth, University of Nebraska-LincolnFollow
Marta Rubio-Codina, Inter-American Development Bank
Samuel N. Kembou, Keele University
Salahuddin Ahmed, Projahnmo Research Foundation
Gill A. Lancaster, Keele University
Melissa Gladstone, University of Liverpool

Date of this Version



McCray G, McCoy D, Kariger P, et al. The creation of the Global Scales for Early Development (GSED) for children aged 0–3 years: combining subject matter expert judgements with big data. BMJ Global Health 2023;8:e009827. doi:10.1136/ bmjgh-2022-009827


Open access.


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.