Health-related quality of life in preschool children in five health conditions
Objective: To test the responsiveness of the Infant/Toddler Quality of Life Questionnaire (ITQOL) to five health conditions. In addition, to evaluate the impact of the child's age and gender on the ITQOL domain scores. Methods: Observational study of 494 Dutch preschool-aged children with five clinical conditions and 410 healthy preschool children randomly sampled from the general population. The clinical conditions included neurofibromatosis type 1, wheezing illness, bronchiolitis, functional abdominal complaints, and burns. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) was assessed by a mailed parent-completed ITQOL. Mean ITQOL scale scores for all conditions were compared with scores obtained from the reference sample. The effect of patient's age and gender on ITQOL scores was assessed using multi-variable regression analysis. Results: In all health conditions, substantially lower scores were found for several ITQOL scales. The conditions had a variable effect on the type of ITQOL domains and a different magnitude of effect. Scores for 'physical functioning', 'bodily pain', and 'general health perceptions' showed the greatest range. Parental impact scales were equally affected by all conditions. In addition to disease type, the child's age and gender had an impact on HRQoL. Conclusions: The five health conditions (each with a distinct clinical profile) affected the ITQOL scales differently. These results indicate that the ITQOL is sensitive to specific characteristics and symptom expression of the childhood health conditions investigated. This insight into the sensitivity of the ITQOL to health conditions with different symptom expression may help in the interpretation of HRQoL results in future applications.