Accurate diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is essential for directing appropriate treatment; and for making decisions about work injury claims. The Kamath and Stothard Questionnaire (KSQ) is a self-reported tool used for the diagnosis of CTS. Comprehensibility and comprehensiveness of this questionnaire are critical to diagnostic performance and need to be established. The purpose of the study was to describe how potential respondents, clinicians, and measurement researchers interpret KSQ questions in order to identify and resolve potential sources of misclassification.
Hand therapists, measurement researchers, participants with CTS, and a control group were interviewed using cognitive interviewing techniques (talk aloud, semi-structured interview probes) in Hamilton, Canada. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. A directed content analysis was done to analyze the interviews using a previously established framework.
Eighteen participants were interviewed. Areas, where questions were unclear to some participants, were recorded and categorized into five themes: Clarity and Comprehension (52%), Relativeness (38%), Inadequate Response Definition (4%), Perspective Modifiers (4%), and Reference Point (2%). Respondents also identified several symptoms of CTS that are not covered by the KSQ that might be of diagnostic value, e.g., weakness and dropping items.
The content validity of the current iteration of the KSQ was not established. The problematic questions identified in the study have been reported to have low specificity and negative predictive values in a previous quantitative study. The content validity issues identified may explain the poor performance. Recommendations were made to modify the wording of the KSQ and the potential addition of three new questions. Future studies should determine whether the modified questionnaire can provide better diagnostic accuracy and psychometric properties. The results of this study may assist in ruling in or out CTS diagnosis to a wide variety of target audience, such as hand specialists, physical and occupational therapists, as well as family doctors.