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The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a self-administered questionnaire to measure the health-related quality of life (QOL) of patients with brain cancer. We wanted to assess both core and disease-specific concerns in a single, easy-to-use instrument, thus promoting concision and clinical utility. The questionnaire departs from its predecessors in that it was designed for- and validated among French speaking Canadians.
A focus group of health professionals was used to develop items for the questionnaire, which was later validated with 105 patients suffering from brain cancer. The underlying structure of the questionnaire was investigated using principal component analysis and confirmed using a principal factor analysis.
The final version of the questionnaire contains 30 items. Seven multi-item scales, tapping into distinct dimensions of QOL, were uncovered (i.e., functional well-being, symptom severity/fear of death, social support/acceptance of disease, autonomy in personal care, digestive symptomatology, neurocognitive function, and pain). Assessment of reliability revealed elevated internal consistency for each of the seven scales (Cronbach coefficient alpha ≥≥.65), whereas known-groups validity (anchor-based approach) revealed that the different dimensions uniquely discriminated between patients with different functional levels (Karnofsky Performance Scores) and clinical status (exposure to neurosurgery, radiotherapy, and use of chemotherapy and anticonvulsants).
Our QOL questionnaire, the Sherbrooke Neuro-Oncology Assessment Scale, or SNAS, taps into both core and disease-specific issues relevant to neuro-oncology patients. It has good validity and reliability, and clearly reflects the multidimensional nature of QOL. Depending on the research focus, it may be used in clinical trials to track the impact of disease and/or treatment on satisfaction, functional status, and general well-being.
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