Comparison of generic versus specific quality-of-life scales for mesh hernia repairs

B Todd Heniford, Amanda L Walters, Amy E Lincourt, Yuri W Novitsky, William W Hope, Kent W Kercher
Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2008, 206 (4): 638-44

BACKGROUND: With the use of mesh shown to considerably reduce recurrence rates for hernia repair and the subsequent improvement in clinical outcomes, focus has now been placed on quality-of-life outcomes in patients undergoing these repairs, specifically, as they relate to the mesh prosthesis. Traditionally, quality of life after hernia surgery, like many other medical conditions, has been tested using the generic SF-36 survey. The SF-36 quality-of-life survey, although well studied and validated, may not be ideal for patients undergoing hernia repairs. We propose a new quality-of-life survey, the Carolinas Comfort Scale (CCS), pertaining specifically to patients undergoing hernia repair with mesh; our goal was to test the validity and reliability of this survey.

STUDY DESIGN: The CCS questionnaire was mailed to 1,048 patients to assess its acceptability, responsiveness, and psychometric properties. The survey sample included patients who were at least 6 months out after hernia repair with mesh. Patients were asked to fill out the CCS and the generic SF-36 questionnaires, four questions comparing the two surveys, and their overall satisfaction relating to their hernia repair and mesh.

RESULTS: The reliability of the CCS was confirmed by Cronbach's alpha coefficient (0.97). Test-retest validity was supported by the correlation found between two different administrations of the CCS; both Spearman's correlation coefficient and the kappa coefficient were important for each question of the CCS. Assessment of its discriminant validity showed that both the mean and median scores for satisfied patients were considerably lower than those for dissatisfied patients. Concurrent validity was demonstrated by the marked correlations found between the CCS and SF-36 questionnaire scales. When comparing the two surveys, 72% of patients preferred the CCS questionnaire, 80% believed it was easier to understand, 66% thought it was more reflective of their condition, and 69% said they would rather fill it out over the SF-36.

CONCLUSIONS: The CCS better assesses quality of life and satisfaction of patients who have undergone surgical hernia repair than the generic SF-36.

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