Quality of life and symptom burden in children with neurodegenerative diseases: using PedsQL and SProND, a new symptom-based scale

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Background: Children with neurodegenerative conditions (CNDC) often suffer from severe neurodisability and high symptom burden with multisystemic involvement. However, their symptom burden and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is not systematically documented in the literature, and there is no existing tool for such purposes. We designed our own tool for scoring of symptom burden amongst CNDCs and adopted the PedsQL generic score 4.0 to quantify the impact of overall symptom burden on children’s overall HRQOL. Methods: The Symptom Profile for children with neurodegnerative condition (SProND) questionnaire was developed, which consisted of 14 questions grouped according to 5 categories, namely epilepsy, neurobehavioural, movement and mobility related, breathing and swallowing, and other daily activities. CNDCs were recruited during visits to the Comprehensive Neurometabolic / Neurodegenerative Program of the Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital and Hong Kong Children’s Hospital between November 2019 and March 2020. The SProND and PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales were distributed to consenting parents of CNDCs. Results: 36 CNDCs were recruited and matched with community controls. The response rate of subject and control were 99.5% and 98.7% respectively. The Cronbach alpha was 0.61 for the neurobehavioural domain and > = 0.7 for other domains. The greater number of symptoms each subject experiences, the worse his/ her PedsQL scores. Subjects displaying hypersalivation and swallowing difficulties had average physical health summary scores of less than 30% compared with subjects without these symptoms. On the other hand, average psychosocial health summary scores of subjects with involuntary movements, joint stiffness, hypersalivation, sleep problem and anorexia were approximately 70% compared to subjects without these symptoms. Discussion and conclusion: This is one of the first studies to look at CNDCs as a group. We propose the SProND questionnaire for evaluation of symptom profile amongst CNDCs with satisfactory internal and external validity. It demonstrates how physical symptoms impact both physical and psychosocial HRQOL, and the cumulative effect of individual symptoms on the overall HRQOL. As such, CNDCs should be systematically screened for multi-systemic symptoms as a routine part of their clinical care, and care plans should be individually catered to individual patients’ symptom burden and specific needs.




Chiu, A. T. G., Wong, S. S. N., Wong, N. W. T., Wong, W. H. S., Tso, W. W. Y., & Fung, C. W. (2022). Quality of life and symptom burden in children with neurodegenerative diseases: using PedsQL and SProND, a new symptom-based scale. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13023-022-02485-5

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