Background: This paper describes the development of the Chinese Quality of Life Instrument (ChQOL) which is a self-report health status instrument. Chinese Medicine relies very much on asking subjective feelings of patients in the process of diagnosis and monitoring of treatment. For thousands of years, Chinese Medicine practitioners have accumulated a good wealth of experiences in asking questions about health of their patients based on the concept of health in Chinese Medicine. These experiences were then transformed into questions for the ChQOL. It is believed that ChQOL can contribute to the existing Patient Report Outcome measures. This paper outlines the concept of health and disease in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the building of the conceptual framework of the ChQOL, the steps of drafting, selecting and validating the items, and the psychometric properties of the ChQOL.
Methods: The development of the ChQOL was based on the concept of health in Traditional Chinese Medicine with a theory driven approach. Based on the results of literature review, the research team developed an initial model of health which encompassed the concept of health in TCM. An expert panel was then invited to comment and give suggestions for improvement of the initial model. According to their suggestions, the model was refined and a set of initial items for the ChQOL was drafted. The refined model, together with the key domains, facets and initial items of the ChQOL were then mailed to a sample of about 100 Chinese medicine practitioners throughout Mainland China for their comments and advice. A revised set of items were developed for linguistic testing by a convenience sample consisting of both healthy people and people who attended Chinese Medicine treatment. After that, an item pool was developed for field-testing. Field test was conducted on a convenience sample of healthy and patient subjects to determine the construct validity and psychometric properties of the ChQOL.
Results: Construct validity was established by various methods, i.e. the internal consistency in all facets and domains were good; the correlation between facets to domain, and domains to overall ChQOL correlation were high; confirmatory factor analysis showed that the structure fitness of all facets, domain and overall structure were good with CFI > 0.9. Test-retest reliability was also good, especially in the domain scores with ICC value ranging from 0.83 to 0.90. No ceiling or floor effect was noted which indicated that ChQOL can be applied to subjects with a wide range of health status. Most facet scores, domain scores and the overall CHQOL scores were able to discriminate groups of subjects with known differences in health status. The ChQOL had mild positive convergence with the other generic health related QOL measures, i.e. the WHOQOL-100 and the SF-36, with moderate correlations.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the study indicated that the ChQOL is conceptually valid with satisfactory psychometric properties. It can provide additional information on health and QOL on top of the existing generic health related QOL measures. Furthermore, it forms basis for further testing and applications in clinical trials.