PedsQL gastrointestinal symptoms module item development: qualitative methods

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012 May;54(5):664-71. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31823c9b88.


Objectives: The objective of the present qualitative study was to develop the items and support the content validity for the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) Gastrointestinal Symptoms Module for pediatric patients with functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and organic GI diseases, hereafter referred to as GI disorders.

Methods: The iterative process included multiphase qualitative methods. A literature review of GI disorders was conducted to generate domains for the focus interviews. Six pediatric gastroenterologists with extensive clinical experience in GI disorders provided expert opinion regarding the conceptual framework. A total of 98 participants, 46 pediatric patients ages 5 to 18, and 52 parents of patients ages 2 to 18 with physician-diagnosed GI disorders (chronic constipation, functional abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease [Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis], gastroesophageal reflux disease), participated in the focus interviews and cognitive interviewing phases, including think-aloud and cognitive debriefing protocols.

Results: Eleven domains were derived from the qualitative methods involving patient and parent interviews and expert opinion, with content saturation achieved, resulting in 76 items. The 11 domains consisted of items measuring stomach pain, stomach upset, food and drink limits, trouble swallowing, heartburn and reflux, gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea, worry, medicines, and communication.

Conclusions: Qualitative methods involving pediatric patients and their parents in the item generation process support the content validity for the new PedsQL Gastrointestinal Symptoms Module. The PedsQL Gastrointestinal Symptoms Module is undergoing national multisite field testing as the next iterative phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / complications
  • Abdominal Pain / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / complications
  • Diarrhea / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sickness Impact Profile*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires