A new approach to multicultural item generation in the development of two obesity-specific measures: the Obesity and Weight Loss Quality of Life (OWLQOL) questionnaire and the Weight-Related Symptom Measure (WRSM)

Clin Ther. 2002 Apr;24(4):690-700. doi: 10.1016/s0149-2918(02)85144-x.


Background: Being overweight or obese has substantial effects on individuals' perceptions of their health and quality of life (QoL). Generic measures often miss important QoL information, and existing obesity-specific instruments have shortcomings with respect to cross-cultural input, application to differing levels of severity, conceptual clarity, and patient burden.

Objective: This study aimed to develop culturally sensitive measures of QoL and symptoms in overweight or obese persons, both those trying to lose weight and those not trying to lose weight.

Methods: Currently accepted criteria and guidelines for questionnaire development were streamlined and augmented to include cross-cultural input from 5 European countries and the United States. The preliminary pool of items was created based on qualitative interviews conducted in the United States, followed by an early check of item translatability and preharmonization across all languages. Ten additional qualitative in-country interviews were then conducted to produce further culture-specific items. This was followed by 2 forward and 1 backward translation, plus cognitive debriefing interviews in each country. Finally, an expanded international harmonization meeting was held to ensure inclusion of appropriate new items and their acceptability across all 6 cultures.

Results: The procedures described resulted in development of the 41-item Obesity and Weight Loss Quality of Life questionnaire and the 20-item Weight-Related Symptom Measure. These questionnaires are subject to further psychometric validation.

Conclusions: Augmentation of the initial item-generation and international harmonization steps of questionnaire development through integration of cross-cultural input allowed greater validity of cross-cultural content while meeting time, budget, and resource constraints.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss / physiology*