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Psychosocial assessment of potential retinal prosthesis trial participants

Sharon A Bentley, Fleur O'Hare, Gregory C Murphy, Robert P Finger, Chi D Luu, Jill E Keeffe, Carla J Abbott, Robyn H Guymer, Lauren N Ayton
Clinical & Experimental Optometry: Journal of the Australian Optometrical Association 2019 March 4

BACKGROUND: As the field of retinal prostheses advances, volunteers are required for device trials, and optimal participant recruitment is vital for intervention success. The aims of this study were: (i) to select tests that assess the psychosocial aspects of visual impairment and develop a psychosocial assessment protocol for persons who may be eligible for participation in retinal prostheses trials; (ii) to investigate correlations between these tests; and (iii) to determine associations between psychosocial factors and a person's interest in participating in a retinal prosthesis (bionic eye) trial.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 72 adults with advanced retinal degeneration. Questionnaire assessments included personality, cognitive ability, social-support, self-efficacy, coping, optimism, depression, and quality of life (Impact of Vision Impairment Profile ([IVI], and Vision and Quality of Life Index [VisQoL]). Level of interest in a retinal prosthesis was also evaluated.

RESULTS: All questionnaires were completed without floor or ceiling effects and with minimal respondent burden. Depression correlated with decreased quality of life (rho = -0.37 and 0.40, p < 0.001 for IVI and VisQoL, respectively). Together, depression, gender and vision-specific coping explained 35.2 per cent of variance in IVI quality of life (p < 0.001). Forty-nine per cent of participants were interested in a retinal prosthesis now and 77 per cent in the future. Although the personality trait of 'openness' was somewhat predictive of interest in retinal prostheses (odds ratio 0.78, 95% CI 0.62-0.97), neither severity of vision impairment nor any of the psychosocial measures were strong predictors.

CONCLUSIONS: Several existing psychosocial questionnaires can be used for patients with advanced retinal degeneration and may be useful in exploring suitability for a retinal prosthesis or evaluating outcomes. However, the questionnaires used in this study were not good predictors of whether or not a person might be interested in a retinal prosthesis.


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