The ALSSQOL: Balancing Physical and Nonphysical Factors in Assessing Quality of Life in ALS

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BACKGROUND: There is no generally accepted instrument for measuring quality of life (QOL) in patients with ALS. Current instruments are either too heavily weighted toward strength and physical function or useful for the evaluation of individuals but of less utility in assessing large samples.

OBJECTIVE: To develop and evaluate the psychometric properties of an ALS-specific QOL instrument (the ALSSQOL) that would reflect overall QOL as assessed by the patient and would be valid and reliable across large samples.

METHODS: The ALSSQOL is based on the McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire (MQOL), modified by changes in format and by adding questions on religiousness and spirituality, items derived from interviews with ALS patients, and items identified from open-ended questions administered during the MQOL. The psychometric properties of the ALSSQOL were assessed by a prospective multicenter study in which participants completed the ALSSQOL, other instruments measuring overall QOL, and instruments assessing religiousness, spirituality, and psychological distress.

RESULTS: A 59-item ALSSQOL was developed; 342 patients evaluated its psychometric properties. Completion time averaged 15 minutes. Forty-six items loaded on six factors. The ALSSQOL demonstrated concurrent, convergent, and discriminant validity for the overall instrument and convergent validity for its subscales. Analysis of individual items permitted insight into variables of clinical importance.

CONCLUSIONS: This new ALS-specific quality of life instrument is a practical tool for the assessment of overall quality of life in individuals with ALS and appears to be valid and useful across large samples. Validation studies of a shortened version are now under way.

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This article was published in Neurology, Volume 67, Issue 9, November 14, 2006, Pages 1659-1664.

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Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Neurology

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