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Open Access Research article

Development and validation of the self-administered Fibromyalgia Assessment Status: a disease-specific composite measure for evaluating treatment effect

Fausto Salaffi1*, Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini2, Rita Girolimetti1, Stefania Gasparini1, Fabiola Atzeni2 and Walter Grassi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology, Polytechnic University of the Marche Medical School, Via dei Colli 52, 60035 Jesi (Ancona), Italy

2 Rheumatology Unit, L. Sacco University Hospital, Via G.B. Grassi 74, 20127 Milan, Italy

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R125  doi:10.1186/ar2792

Published: 18 August 2009

Abstract

Introduction

The Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) is a composite disease-specific measure validated for fibromyalgia (FM), but it is rarely used in clinical practice. The objective was to develop and analyse the psychometric properties of a new composite disease-specific index (Fibromyalgia Assessment Status, FAS), a simple self-administered index that combines a patient's assessment of fatigue, sleep disturbances and pain evaluated on the basis of the 16 non-articular sites listed on the Self-Assessment Pain Scale (SAPS) in a single measure (range 0 to 10).

Methods

The FAS index was constructed using a traditional development strategy, and its psychometric properties were tested in 226 FM patients (209 women, 17 men); whose disease-related characteristics were assessed by means of an 11-numbered circular numerical rating scale (NRS) for pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances and general health (GH), the tender point score (TPS), the SAPS, the FIQ, and the SF-36. A group of 226 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients was used for comparative purposes. Of the 179 FM patients who entered the follow-up study, 152 completed the three-month period and were included in the responsiveness analyses. One hundred and fifty-four patients repeated the FAS questionnaire after an interval of one week, and its test/re-test reliability was calculated. Responsiveness was evaluated on the basis of effect size and the standardised response mean.

Results

The FAS index fulfilled the established criteria for validity, reliability and responsiveness. Factor analysis showed that SAPS and fatigue contributed most, and respectively explained 47.4% and 31.2% of the variance; sleep explained 21.3%. Testing for internal consistency showed that Cronbach's alpha was 0.781, thus indicating a high level of reliability. As expected, closer significant correlations were found when FAS was compared with total FIQ (rho = 0.347; P < 0.0001) and the FIQ subscales, particularly job ability, tiredness, fatigue and pain (all P < 0.0001), but the correlation between FAS and the mental component summary scale score (MCS) of the SF-36 (rho = -0.531; P < 0.0001) was particularly interesting. Test/re-test reliability was satisfactory. The FAS showed the greatest effect size. The magnitude of the responsiveness measures was statistically different between FAS (0.889) and the FIQ (0.781) (P = 0.038), and between the SF-36 MCS (0.434) and the SF-36 physical component summary scale score (PCS) (0.321) (P < 0.01).

Conclusions

The self-administered FAS is a reliable, valid and responsive disease-specific composite measure for assessing treatment effect in patients with FM.