Objective—To develop a reliable, validated questionnaire that can be used for the assessment of chronic pain and its impact on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in dogs.
Sample Population—17 owners of dogs that had chronic pain associated with chronic degenerative joint disease and 165 other dog owners.
Procedures—Psychometric methods were used to identify relevant domains, create an item pool, select and validate items, and construct and preliminarily test a structured questionnaire. Relevant domains were identified through semi structured interviews. Descriptor-generating exercises provided the terms owners used to describe these domains and formed an item pool. A selection from this pool was validated and used to construct a questionnaire that underwent preliminary testing.
Results—The structured questionnaire contained 109 simple, familiar, descriptive terms associated with good health or chronic pain (most describing subtle aspects of behavior that owners interpreted as expressions of subjective experiences of their dogs) for 13 possible HRQL domains. Each descriptor was associated with a 7-point numeric scale.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The questionnaire was intended to facilitate rapid, sensitive, and accurate rating of a comprehensive range of relevant domains by naïve raters with minimal burden on respondents. The principles underlying the development and design of this structured questionnaire offer a novel approach to the proxy measurement of HRQL and changes in HRQL associated with chronic pain for a range of animal species.
Impact for Human Medicine—This novel approach may be applicable to other nonverbal populations (eg, young children or elderly people with cognitive impairment). (Am J Vet Res 2004;65;1077–1084)