Objective: To design a reliable and validated self-administered questionnaire whose purpose is to assess dysphagia's effects on the quality of life (QOL) of patients with head and neck cancer.
Design: Cross-sectional survey study.
Methods: Focus groups were convened for questionnaire development and design. The M. D. Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) included global, emotional, functional, and physical subscales. One hundred consecutive adult patients with a neoplasm of the upper aerodigestive tract who underwent evaluation by our Speech Pathology team completed the MDADI and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36). Speech pathologists completed the Performance Status Scale for each patient. Validity and reliability properties were calculated. Analysis of variance was used to assess how well the MDADI discriminated between groups of patients.
Results: The internal consistency reliability of the MDADI was calculated using the Cronbach alpha coefficient. The Cronbach alpha coefficients of the MDADI subscales ranged from 0.85 to 0.93. Test-retest reliability coefficients of the subscales ranged from 0.69 to 0.88. Spearman correlation coefficients between the MDADI subscales and the SF-36 subscales demonstrated construct validity. Patients with primary tumors of the oral cavity and oropharynx had significantly greater swallowing disability with an adverse impact on their QOL compared with patients with primary tumors of the larynx and hypopharynx (P<.001). Patients with a malignant lesion also had significantly greater disability than patients with a benign lesion (P<.001).
Conclusions: The MDADI is the first validated and reliable self-administered questionnaire designed specifically for evaluating the impact of dysphagia on the QOL of patients with head and neck cancer. Standardized questionnaires that measure patients' QOL offer a means for demonstrating treatment impact and improving medical care. The development and validation of the MDADI and its use in prospective clinical trials allow for better understanding of the impact of treatment of head and neck cancer on swallowing and of swallowing difficulty on patients' QOL.