Development and validation of the Neuro Symptom Inventory in the primary brain tumor patient population

Terri S Armstrong, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Symptoms has been shown to predict quality of life, treatment course and survival in solid tumor patients. Currently, no instrument exists that measures both cancer-related symptoms and the neurologic symptoms that are unique to persons with primary brain tumors (PBT). The aim of this study was to develop and validate an instrument to measure symptoms in patients who have PBT. A conceptual analysis of symptoms and symptom theories led to defining the symptoms experience as the perception of the frequency, intensity, distress, and meaning that occurs as symptoms are produced, perceived, and expressed. The M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) measures both symptoms and how they interfere with daily functioning in patients with cancer, which is similar to the situational meaning defined in the analysis. A list of symptoms pertinent to the PBT population was added to the core MDASI and reviewed by a group of experts for validity. As a result, 18 items were added to the core MDASI (the MDASI-BT) for the next phase of instrument development, establishing validity and reliability through a descriptive, cross-sectional approach with PBT patients. Data were collected with a patient completed demographic data sheet, an investigator completed clinician checklist, and the MDASI-BT. Analysis evaluated the reliability and validity of the MDASI-BT in PBT patients. Data were obtained from 201 patients. The number of items was reduced to 22 by evaluation of symptom severity as well as cluster analysis. Regression analysis showed more than half (56%) of the variability in symptom severity was explained by the brain tumor module items. Factor analysis confirmed that the 22 item MDASI-BT measured six underlying constructs: (a) affective; (b) cognitive; (c) focal neurologic deficits; (d) constitutional symptoms; (e) treatment-related symptoms; and (f) gastrointestinal symptoms. The MDASI-BT was sensitive to disease severity and if the patient was hospitalized. The MDASI-BT is the first instrument to measure symptoms in PBT patients that has demonstrated reliability and validity. It is the first step in a program of research to evaluate the occurrence of symptoms and plan and evaluate interventions for PBT patients.

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Recommended Citation

Armstrong, Terri S, "Development and validation of the Neuro Symptom Inventory in the primary brain tumor patient population" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3198902.