A qualitative exploration of the content and face validity of preference-based measures within the context of dementia

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Background: Assessing the cost-effectiveness of interventions for people with dementia, based on cost per quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained, requires that the measures used to derive QALYs are preference-based whilst also being valid, feasible to use, comprehensible and acceptable for people with dementia. The aim of this study was to assess the content and face validity of six preference-based measures (PBMs) within the context of dementia. Methods: Qualitative focus groups and interviews were conducted with community-dwelling individuals with mild dementia and carers of people with dementia. After exploring participants' understanding of 'quality of life' (QoL), six PBMs were assessed for content and face validity: two measures assessing health-related QoL (EQ-5D-5L and AQoL-8D); two covering broader aspects of capability wellbeing and social care-related QoL (ICECAP-O and ASCOT); and two dementia-specific QoL measures (DEMQOL-U and AD-5D). A random mix of one health-related QoL measure, one wellbeing measure, and one dementia-specific measure was explored in each session. All sessions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically. Results: Nine individuals with mild dementia and 17 carers of people with dementia participated across 4 focus groups and 10 interviews. Participants perceived 9 broad QoL domains as relevant to them: Activity, Autonomy, Cognition, Communication, Coping, Emotions, End-of-Life, Physical Functioning, and Relationships. These domains had limited overlap with the content of the six PBMs. Assessment of face validity was summarized into eight themes: (1) ambiguous questions, (2) double -barrelled questions, (3) difficult/abstract questions, (4) judgemental/confronting questions, (5) lack of relevance and comprehensiveness, (6) response options, (7) layout/format and (8) proxy-response. There was no clear preference for one of the six measures explored; participants identified advantages and disadvantages across all measures. Although particularly designed for individuals with dementia, dementia-specific QoL measures were not always favoured over non-specific measures. Conclusion: Given the shortcomings of PBMs identified in this study, further empirical comparative analyses are necessary to guide the selection of PBMs for future dementia research.




Engel, L., Bucholc, J., Bucholc, J., Mihalopoulos, C., Mulhern, B., Ratcliffe, J., … Hanna, L. (2020). A qualitative exploration of the content and face validity of preference-based measures within the context of dementia. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-020-01425-w

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