Doward LC, McKenna SP, Meads DM. Development of the herpes outbreak impact questionnaire (HOIQ). Poster presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISQOL); November 2003. [abstract] Qual Life Res. 2003 Nov; 12(7):862.

PURPOSE: The RGHQoL questionnaire has been employed in the assessment of quality of life (QoL) in patients with recurrent genital herpes (RGH); it is concerned with the impact of the virus on the everyday life of patients. No measure has been available for assessing impact of a herpes outbreak on patients with the condition. Some interventions for the condition attempt to abort an outbreak or to reduce its length and/or severity. An instrument was required to determine the benefit of such interventions from the patients’ perspective, in the context of a clinical trial.

METHODS: Content of the HOIQ was derived from 40 qualitative interviews with RGH patients who were asked to describe symptoms and functional limitations imposed by a herpes outbreak. Nineteen cognitive debriefing interviews were conducted with RGH patients, employing the draft HOIQ. Finally, the measure was employed in a web-based survey involving 158 patients in order to identify the final set of items and to establish unidimensionality, reproducibility, internal consistency and construct validity.

RESULTS: Interviews identified a number of areas of functioning that were affected during an outbreak; social, work and other activities, relationships, personal hygiene, choice of clothing, need to avoid becoming tired, worry and anxiety and fear of discovery. De-briefing interviews indicated that the content was appropriate for this patient group and that the measure was easy to understand and complete. Following Rasch analysis of the survey data a 12-item unidimensional measure was identified with good reproducibility, internal consistency and construct validity.

CONCLUSIONS: The HOIQ represents an effective method for determining the impact of a herpes outbreak. The measure is scheduled to be used on a daily basis during such outbreaks in a trial designed to determine the effectiveness of a new treatment for RGH.

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