Background and aims: Chronic pancreatitis (CP) produces disabling symptoms and requires major clinical interventions over a number of years. There is consensus that quality-of-life (QoL) assessment should be part of assessing the treatment and outcome of CP. These symptoms and treatments resemble those of pancreatic cancer, for which there are validated QoL assessment instruments. The aim of our study was to assess the appropriateness of using the EORTC QoL assessment system for pancreatic cancer (the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26) for patients with CP, and to document important issues that affect QoL in these patients.
Methods: A structured literature review was undertaken to determine current approaches to QoL in pancreatic disease. Sixty-six patients with newly diagnosed or treated CP were asked to complete the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26 in four countries (Germany, Italy, South Africa, and United Kingdom). Patients were asked to review the appropriateness of the content and structure of the instruments, during a directed interview. Standard psychometric tests were used to assess the reliability and validity of the instruments. Peer review was undertaken to review findings and adapt the QLQ-PAN26 on the basis of the responses obtained.
Results: The literature review highlighted the potential value of the EORTC QLQ-C30 and identified the lack of a CP-specific instrument, which had been appropriately developed. There was overwhelming consensus among experts that the EORTC assessment system appeared suitable for use in CP patients. This was endorsed by all patients. Patients identified additional issues related to guilt about the use of alcohol and the burden of trying to abstain. All but one scale (jaundice) exhibited adequate internal consistency (r > 0.70) Construct validity of the QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26 showed strong associations between conceptually related scales (r > 0.6, p < 0.001) and significantly discriminated between patients on the basis of performance status and requirement for opiate analgesia. Significant issues affecting QoL in CP patients, in addition to recognized symptoms of the disease, were fear of future health problems, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue.
Conclusion: The EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26 appear to be an appropriate assessment system for CP, with the addition of items to cover guilt about alcohol consumption, and the burden of abstention. Patients' QoL is adversely affected by the fear of future health problems, difficulty sleeping, and fatigue.