Disease-specific Quality Of Life (QOL) measures are devised to assess the impact of a specific disease across a spectrum of important domains of life. The purpose of this study was to examine the cross-sectional and longitudinal construct validity (sensitivity to change) of two rotator cuff disease-specific measures, the Rotator Cuff-Quality Of Life (RC-QOL) and the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff (WORC) index, in relation to one another and to other joint and limb specific measures in the same population of the patients suffering from rotator cuff pathology.
Participants enrolled were consecutive patients who received physical therapy for management of impingement syndrome or received treatment following rotator cuff repair, acromioplasty or decompression surgeries. All subjects received physical therapy treatment and completed four outcome measures at 3 single points (initial, interim, and final). Cross-sectional convergent validity was assessed at each of the 3 time-points by correlating the WORC and RC-QOL's scores to each other and to two alternative scales; a joint-specific scale, the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) standardized shoulder assessment form and a limb-specific measure, the Upper Extremity Functional Index (UEFI). Non-parametric statistics (Spearman's rho and Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests) examined the construct validity. The standardized response mean (SRM) was used to examine sensitivity to change.
Forty-one participants entered the study and their scores were compared at 3 cross sectional single points. The correlation coefficients among the 4 measures varied from 0.60 to 0.91. Correlation between corresponding domains of the WORC and RC-QOL varied from 0.45 to 0.85. The known group validity was not significantly different among individual sub-scores and total scores. The final SRMs were (1.42), (1.43), (1.44), and (1.54) for the ASES, RCQOL, WORC, and UEFI respectively.
The WORC and RC-QOL exhibit similar cross-sectional convergent validity in patients suffering from rotator cuff pathology. The sensitivity to change was very close among all scores, with the UEFI having the highest sensitivity. Further research is needed to examine the extent to which each physical or emotional domain contributes to prognostic or therapeutic decision-making.