Background: Clinical management of constipation is complicated by the lack of a gold standard for evaluation of symptoms. A constipation symptom assessment instrument, the PAC-SYM, was developed to address the patient perspective on the disorder. Instrument content was based on literature review and results of focus groups.
Methods: Two hundred and sixteen patients at nine sites participated in a 6-week psychometric evaluation of the PAC-SYM. The final instrument contained 12 items assigned to 3 subscales: stool symptoms, rectal symptoms, and abdominal symptoms. The psychometric properties of this final instrument were assessed.
Results: Internal consistency and test-retest reliability of the final instrument was high (Cronbach's alpha = 0.89; intraclass correlation = 0.75). Concurrent validity was supported by the correlation with both subject and investigator constipation severity ratings (r= 0.68 and 0.72, respectively; P < 0.0001). Scores were moderately correlated with instruments measuring quality of life. Comparison of treatment responders with nonresponders showed the ability of the instrument to differentiate between groups on the basis of clinical severity (t = -6.12, P < 0.0001 ). Scores changed significantly over time among responders, indicating instrument responsiveness.
Conclusions: The PAC-SYM is internally consistent, reproducible under stable conditions, valid, and responsive to change and provides a comprehensive means to assess the effectiveness of treatment for constipation.