Objective: To develop a new specific instrument called the Autonomic Symptom Profile to measure autonomic symptoms and test its validity.
Background: Measuring symptoms is important in the evaluation of quality of life outcomes. There is no validated, self-completed questionnaire on the symptoms of patients with autonomic disorders.
Methods: The questionnaire is 169 items concerning different aspects of autonomic symptoms. The Composite Autonomic Symptom Scale (COMPASS) with item-weighting was established; higher scores indicate more or worse symptoms. Autonomic function tests were performed to generate the Composite Autonomic Scoring Scale (CASS) and to quantify autonomic deficits. We compared the results of the COMPASS with the CASS derived from the Autonomic Reflex Screen to evaluate validity.
Results: The instrument was tested in 41 healthy controls (mean age 46.6 years), 33 patients with nonautonomic peripheral neuropathies (mean age 59.5 years), and 39 patients with autonomic failure (mean age 61.1 years). COMPASS scores correlated well with the CASS, demonstrating an acceptable level of content and criterion validity. The mean (+/-SD) overall COMPASS score was 9.8 (+/-9) in controls, 25.9 (+/-17.9) in the patients with nonautonomic peripheral neuropathies, and 52.3 (+/-24.2) in the autonomic failure group. Scores of symptoms of orthostatic intolerance and secretomotor dysfunction best predicted the CASS on multiple stepwise regression analysis.
Conclusions: We describe a questionnaire that measures autonomic symptoms and present evidence for its validity. The instrument shows promise in assessing autonomic symptoms in clinical trials and epidemiologic studies.