The measurement of premenstrual mood symptoms
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INTRODUCTION: To aid in the diagnosis and management of premenstrual syndromes, dozens of symptom measurement instruments have been created and several methods for classifying clinically important change in symptoms have been defined. While the diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) has become standardized through the application of research criteria, consensus amongst investigators as to the instruments best able to confirm the diagnosis and measure treatment effects has yet to be reached. OBJECTIVE: To determine the performance and inter-correlations of three prospective symptom rating scales used to establish severity of premenstrual mood symptoms and measure efficacy during a treatment trial for premenstrual dysphoria. METHODS: Single item visual analogue scales (VASs) for irritability, tension, depression and mood swings were used in combination with the Premenstrual Tension Syndrome Observer (PMTS-O) and Self-Rating (PMTS-SR) scales to measure the severity of premenstrual mood symptoms at baseline and during treatment. RESULTS: Premenstrual mood symptoms as measured by VASs significantly correlated with PMTS-0 and PMTS-SR scale scores (range 0.70 to 0.82, P < 0.001). All scales were sensitive to premenstrual symptom worsening (which is a required characteristic of this disorder) and revealed differences in effects of treatment on premenstrual mood symptoms (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: VASs in combination with the PMTS-O are low in burden to the client, reliable, valid and sensitive to change. In light of the current debates regarding instruments most appropriate for the classification and measurement of treatment effects in women diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoria, further refinement of these scales is warranted.
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