Background: The objectives of the study were to evaluate impairment in quality of life in 12- to 17-year-old patients with seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and to develop and test a questionnaire suitable for evaluating change in quality of life during clinical trials.
Methods: Patients were asked to identify physical and emotional impairments associated with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. The resultant questionnaire was tested for responsiveness and validity in a clinical trial in which fluticasone nasal spray and loratadine were compared for treatment of ragweed pollen-induced rhinoconjunctivitis. Eighty-three patients, 12 to 17 years of age, with grass- or ragweed-induced hayfever participated in the instrument development phase. They were recruited for the study from an allergy clinic and local schools and recreational organizations. Two hundred forty patients with ragweed hayfever participated in the clinical trial and provided quality of life data.
Results: The survey showed that in addition to local symptoms, patients experienced impairment of quality of life because of systemic symptoms, activity limitations, and emotional and practical problems. The resultant questionnaire has 25 items in six domains. In the clinical trial responsiveness was demonstrated by the questionnaire's ability to detect change over time and differences between treatments. Construct validity was demonstrated by moderate to strong relationships between changes in diary symptom scores and quality of life.
Conclusions: The items identified by 12- to 17-year-old patients were not identical to those previously identified by adults. This suggests that impairment of quality of life may not be the same in the two groups and that it is appropriate to have a questionnaire specifically designed for adolescent rhinoconjunctivitis clinical trials.