Development and Psychometric Validation of the BREAST-Q Sensation Module for Women Undergoing Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction

Ann Surg Oncol. 2021 Nov;28(12):7842-7853. doi: 10.1245/s10434-021-10094-y. Epub 2021 May 14.


Background: Reconstructive techniques for restoring sensation to the breast after mastectomy continue to evolve. The BREAST-Q is a patient-reported outcome measure that can be used to evaluate outcomes of breast cancer treatments; however, it previously lacked scales to measure breast sensation. This paper outlines the development and validation of the BREAST-Q Sensation Module.

Methods: Phase 1 (January 2017 through December 2018) involved qualitative and cognitive interviews with women who had undergone breast reconstruction, as well as expert input, to develop and refine the scales. In phase 2 (March through June 2019), Love Research Army (LRA) members completed the scales, and Rasch Measurement Theory (RMT) analysis was performed to examine the reliability and validity of the scales.

Results: In this study, 36 qualitative and 7 cognitive interviews were conducted, and input from 18 experts was obtained. Three scales were developed to measure breast Symptoms (e.g., throbbing, burning, tingling), Sensation (e.g., feeling with light touch, through clothing, sexually), and Quality of Life impact of sensation loss. In phase 2, 1204 LRA members completed the scales. Data for each scale fit the RMT model. Reliability was high, with Person Separation Index, Cronbach alpha, and intraclass correlation coefficient values of 0.81 or higher (with and without extremes) for all three scales. Mean scores were higher (better) on the Symptoms and Quality of Life impact scales for the participants with unilateral (vs. bilateral) and autologous (vs. alloplastic) reconstruction, and for the participants who were farther out from their reconstruction.

Conclusion: The BREAST-Q Sensation Module can be used alone or in conjunction with other BREAST-Q scales to inform clinical care and to evaluate outcomes of new surgical approaches to restoration of breast sensation.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty*
  • Mastectomy
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires