Background: The assessment of self-reported outcomes in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is limited by the lack of validated disease-specific measures. The SymptoMScreen (SyMS) is a patient-reported questionnaire for measuring symptom severity in different domains affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), but has not been thoroughly evaluated in NMOSD. The aim of this study was to assess the psychometric properties of the SyMS in a sample of patients with NMOSD.
Methods: A non-interventional, cross-sectional study in adult subjects with NMOSD (Wingerchuk 2015 criteria) was conducted at 13 neuroimmunology clinics applying the SyMS. A non-parametric item response theory procedure, Mokken analysis, was performed to assess the underlying dimensional structure and scalability of items and overall questionnaire. All analyses were performed with R (v4.0.3) using the mokken library.
Results: A total of 70 patients were studied (mean age: 47.5 ± 15 years, 80% female, mean Expanded Disability Status Scale score: 3.0 [interquartile range 1.5, 4.5]). Symptom severity was low (median SyMS score: 19.0 [interquartile range 10.0, 32.0]). The SyMS showed a robust internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha: 0.90 [95% confidence interval 0.86, 0.93]) and behaved as a unidimensional scale with all items showing scalability coefficients > 0.30. The overall SyMS scalability was 0.45 conforming to a medium scale according to Mokken's criteria. Fatigue and body pain were the domains with the highest scalability coefficients. The SyMS was associated with disability (rho: 0.586), and physical and psychological quality of life (rho: 0.856 and 0.696, respectively).
Conclusions: The SyMS shows appropriate psychometric characteristics and may constitute a valuable and easy-to-implement option to measure symptom severity in patients with NMOSD.