Objective: The situation of patients with multiple myeloma, whose treatment often implies high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation that can be associated with severe symptoms and psychological distress, has gained attention in recent psychooncological research. This study followed an idiographic approach in order to identify the areas of life most relevant for the interviewed myeloma patients' quality of life (QoL) as well as their current satisfaction with these.
Methods: 64 patients took part in semi-structured interviews according to the SEIQoL-DW Manual (Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life - Direct Weighting). Visual analogue scales (VAS) were used to gain additional information about a general assessment of the present QoL. Qualitative data evaluation preceded quantitative processing. Groups were compared according to the time elapsed since diagnosis regarding specified areas of life, satisfaction with these and their relative weighting. SEIQoL-DW-indices were correlated to the VAS to reflect on an interindividually comparable parameter.
Results: Personal social relationships were mentioned significantly more often as important for QoL than health-related aspects, and in direct comparison were weighted significantly stronger. Regarding the change of areas relevant for QoL over the time elapsed since diagnosis, there was a significant difference between groups concerning the area of spirituality. Satisfaction differed significantly between groups for the field of leisure.
Conclusion: The results for the interviewed patients with multiple myeloma point out the need to take into account the importance of social and individual aspects when reflecting on QoL. Similar findings have been reported for different samples. The relevance of an individualized approach is illustrated by the fact that individually named areas of life were rated comparatively strongly in their importance for the patients' QoL. An overall assessment for the current QoL by means of VAS is regarded as an adequate supplement to the SEIQoL-Profile and an alternative to the SEIQoL-DW-Index.
Keywords: Cancer; Individual quality of life; Multiple myeloma; Psychooncology.