J Neurosurg. 2022 Sep 2:1-11. doi: 10.3171/2022.7.JNS221104. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Facial nerve function, hearing preservation, and tumor control have been the primary benchmarks used to assess vestibular schwannoma (VS) outcomes. Acknowledging the frequent discrepancy between what physicians prioritize and what patients value, there has been increasing prioritization of patient-reported outcome measures when evaluating the impact of VS diagnosis and its treatment. Motivated by reported limitations of prior instruments used to assess quality of life (QOL) in patients with VS, the authors describe the development and validation of a new disease-specific QOL measure: the Vestibular Schwannoma Quality of Life (VSQOL) Index.
METHODS: The content development phase comprised identification of clinically important domains and prioritization of feelings or concerns individuals with VS may have. The validation phase encompassed determining how items were grouped into domains and eliminating redundant items. Both phases leveraged data from cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, expertise from a multidisciplinary working group, and patients with a broad range of experiences with VS (n = 42 during content development and n = 263 during validation). Domain scores from the new instrument were assessed for reliability and correlation with other measures of similar constructs.
RESULTS: The VSQOL Index consists of 40 items that evaluate the impact of VS diagnosis and its management on QOL, treatment satisfaction, and employment and is estimated to take 8-10 minutes to complete. Domain scores range from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) and demonstrate excellent psychometric properties, including content, construct, and convergent validity and both internal consistency (Cronbach’s alphas 0.83 to 0.91) and test-retest reliability (reliability coefficients 0.86 to 0.96).
CONCLUSIONS: The VSQOL Index is a valid and reliable measure that overcomes several limitations of prior instruments, including omission or underrepresentation of domains that frequently impact well-being, such as pain, cognition, satisfaction or regret surrounding treatment decisions, and occupational limitations, to comprehensively evaluate the impact of VS diagnosis or its treatment on QOL.
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