DeMuro (Romano) C, Mayorga M, Ruiz-Guinazu J, Trudel GC, Fehnel S, McQuarrie K, Chan EKH, Katz EG. Development of patient- and observer-reported outcome measures to assess COVID-19 signs and symptoms in children and adolescents. J Patient Rep Outcomes. 2023 Jan 26;7(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s41687-023-00542-6

BACKGROUND: The Symptoms of Infection with Coronavirus-19 (SIC) is a 30-item patient-reported outcome measure to evaluate the presence and severity of COVID-19 signs/symptoms in adults. This study expanded the context of use of the adult SIC among adolescents aged 12-17 years and supported a pediatric adaptation (the Pediatric SIC [PedSIC]) for caregiver assessment of signs/symptoms in children aged < 12 years.

METHODS: Draft versions of the PedSIC and reference materials containing sign/symptom definitions for adolescents, based on an assessment of the reading level of SIC items by a professional linguist, were developed to facilitate accurate completion of the SIC by adolescents and observer-report (PedSIC) by caregivers. For adolescents, reference materials were intended to provide definitions for selected signs/symptoms identified to have a higher reading level. Iterative rounds of cognitive debriefing interviews were conducted from November 2020 to January 2021 to evaluate adolescent understanding of the SIC reference materials and inform refinement of the PedSIC for caregivers of children too young to reliably self-report. Participants were identified via databases of individuals who previously expressed interest in participating in qualitative research and were then screened for eligibility. Recruitment quotas were established to improve sample diversity. Thematic analysis and descriptive statistics were used to assess qualitative and demographic data, respectively.

RESULTS: Nine healthy adolescents (mean [SD, range] age, 14 [1.76, 12-17] years, 56% female, 22% non-White; round 1, n = 6; round 2, n = 3) and 17 caregivers (mean [SD, range] age, 34 [6.28, 26-41] years, 59% female, 35% non-White; round 1, n = 9; round 2, n = 8) were interviewed. Adolescents understood the majority of signs/symptoms (22 of the 30 SIC items) without assistance or use of the reference materials during the cognitive debriefing interview. Definitions were added to the reference materials for 5 additional items, and clarifications provided to existing definitions for 3 items. Seven observer-report (PedSIC) items were modified following feedback from caregivers of healthy young children. Reference materials (similar to those for adolescent use) were developed to support caregiver understanding of the intent of the PedSIC items collecting input from children ages ≥ 5- < 12 years.

CONCLUSION: Results support using the SIC, PedSIC, and their associated reference materials to evaluate the presence and severity of COVID-19 signs/symptoms in adolescents and children aged < 12 years via caregiver-supported report, respectively.

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