The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the psychometric properties of two generic health-related quality of life (HRQoL) instruments, the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) in a group of patients with chronic peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP). The sample consisted of 126 adults (56 men and 70 women) with PNP following a lesion of a peripheral nerve, spinal nerve or nerve root or patients with post-herpetic neuralgia. The battery of tests included visual analogue scales (VASs) for pain assessment and global rating of health and verbal rating scales of pain and other symptoms, as well as patient descriptors. The SF-36 had higher internal consistency reliability coefficients (alpha=0.79, range 0.70-0.90) than the NHP (alpha=0.68, range 0.49-0.79). Correlations between comparable dimensions of the two instruments were significant (range from -0.79 for the physical and mental dimensions to -0.29 for the social dimension) indicating a moderate degree of convergent validity. The study population had significantly worse scores on all dimensions of the two instruments when compared with the general population. Subjects with high VAS scores for pain on movement and those with low global health ratings had poorer scores on the both instruments. Overall, the SF-36 performed somewhat better on psychometric testing than did the NHP. However, the NHP contains dimensions such as sleep and more pain items which might be of particular importance in the PNP population. Since the instruments are short, both could be retained for continued testing in outcome studies of this population.
Copyright 2001 European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain.