Background: A child- and adolescent-generated IBD quality-of-life index was designed to be descriptive (to be used to assess the overall impact of IBD on individual patients), and evaluative (to be used as an outcome measure in clinical trials).
Methods: Item-generation and item-reduction interviews with 82 patients with IBD aged 8 to 17 years (61 with Crohn's disease, 21 with ulcerative colitis; 36 girls, 45 boys) generated a list of ways in which their lives were affected by IBD. These issues were incorporated into an item-reduction questionnaire, which was administered to 117 patients (87 Crohn's disease, 30 ulcerative colitis). Patients indicated on a visual analog scale how important an item was to them and how often it bothered them. Mean and median importance-plus-frequency scores for each issue were calculated for the entire group and among patients in subgroups according to age and IBD type.
Results: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect the lives of children and adolescents differently. Bowel symptoms are more troubling and disabling to patients with ulcerative colitis, whereas systemic symptoms and body image concerns are greater for patients with Crohn's disease. The impact of Crohn's disease on ability to function in school and leisure activities is greater. Worries about future health problems and about the effects of IBD on the family are shared. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis trigger emotional responses of unfairness and frustration, but anger and embarrassment are more prevalent in ulcerative colitis. Disparities between age groups are fewer and less marked than those between types of IBD.
Conclusion: In selection of items to be retained in a pediatric IBD quality-of-life measure, the variation in concerns with disease type must be considered. A single index to assess IBD-related quality of life must include items of major importance to one subgroup of patients, even if not important to all. Alternately, a core of common concerns could be supplemented by disease-specific modules, thereby increasing the content validity of the tool for all patients.