The impact of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is poorly documented. We assessed quality of life in a group of 276 unselected patients with PBC using the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP). This is a generic scale that assesses six major areas commonly associated with HRQOL. Data were compared with those of a sex- and age-matched control group. The associations between NHP scores and the severity of PBC were tested. Patients (86% women) had a median age of 62 years (range 33-87). Most patients were treated with UDCA. PBC patients showed a strong statistically significant difference in energy compared to controls (respectively, 40.6 vs. 22.9, P < .0001) and had worse scores for emotional reactions (22.2 vs. 16.1, P < .005). No other differences were observed. No associations of the dimension subscores were found with biochemical liver tests, histological stages, or duration of the disease. Among the signs or symptoms, fatigue was the finding most often associated with the dimension subscores. In conclusion, patients with PBC feel that their overall quality of life is worse than that of the control population. This difference is mainly due to the decrease in the subscores of energy and emotional reactions, both associated with fatigue. These effects must be taken into account by clinicians when treating these patients, as they constitute the clinical outcomes that have the most impact on patients' lifestyle and adherence to treatment.
Copyright 2004 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases