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Quality of Life in Persons with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection: Measurement by the Medical Outcomes Study Instrument

Tom Wachtel, MD; John Piette, MS; Vincent Mor, PhD; Michael Stein, MD; John Fleishman, PhD; and Charles Carpenter, MD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine 14th Annual Meeting, 3 May 1991, Seattle, Washington.

Grant Support: In part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Requests for Reprints: Tom J. Wachtel, MD, Division of General Internal Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy Street, Providence, RI 02903.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Wachtel and Stein: Division of General Internal Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy Street, Providence, RI 02903.

Drs. Mor and Fleishman and Mr. Piette: Box G-B213, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.

Dr. Carpenter: Brown University/Miriam Hospital, 164 Summit Avenue, Providence, RI 02906.

© 1992 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1992;116(2):129-137. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-116-2-129
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Objective: To assess the reliability and validity of the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Short Form Health Survey as an indicator for quality of life in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Design: Patient interview survey.

Setting: The AIDS Health Services Program in seven sites: Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey; Nassau County, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Seattle, Washington.

Patients: Patients (520) with HIV infection receiving health services at one of the above sites.

Measurements: All components of the MOS Short Form Health Survey were included in the interview. Minor modifications were made to adapt the survey to the particular circumstances of the study. Measured sociodemographic characteristics included age, sex, race, intravenous drug use, and education. Symptoms were assessed by closed-ended questions concerning memory, seizure, weakness or numbness, fever, chills, diaphoreses, dyspnea, diarrhea, and weight loss. Information on the frequency of symptoms was also collected History of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Kaposi sarcoma was noted.

Main Results: The sociodemographic characteristics resemble those of patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): mean age, 36; men, 89%; nonwhite, 31%; intravenous drug use, 34%. Neurologic symptoms (memory trouble, seizures, weakness or numbness) occurred in 71 % of patients; constitutional symptoms (fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss) in 69%; dyspnea in 50%; and diarrhea in 47%. Although older age, female sex, nonwhite race, and intravenous drug use were associated with lower MOS scores in several areas, the strongest single or adjusted indicator of lower MOS scores was the presence of symptoms. Finally, patients with HIV infection had significantly lower scores than did previously reported patients with other chronic medical conditions (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The MOS survey is a reliable measure of quality of life for patients with HIV infection. These patients tend to have low scores, suggesting validity of the survey. The MOS survey is extremely sensitive to the effect of symptoms, which suggests that it might be useful as a quality-of-life indicator for AIDS clinical drug trials.





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