To describe the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and to examine the usefulness of the Juvenile Arthritis Quality of Life Questionnaire (JAQQ) in a UK context. It was hypothesized that HRQOL would decrease with worsening disease and disability.
Patients with JIA ages 11, 14, and 17 years were recruited from 10 major rheumatology centers. HRQOL was measured using the JAQQ. Other data were core outcome variables including the Childhood Health Assessment Questionnaire, demographic characteristics, arthritis-related knowledge, and satisfaction with health care.
Questionnaires were completed by 308 adolescents. One-fifth had persistent oligoarthritis. Median disease duration was 5.7 years (range <1–16 years). The JAQQ was shown to have good psychometric properties when used in the UK, but was not without limitations. HRQOL of adolescents with JIA was less than optimal, particularly in the domains of gross motor and systemic functioning. Items most frequently rated as adolescents' biggest psychological problems were “felt frustrated” and “felt depressed,” rated by 30.2% and 23.4%, respectively. These were particularly problematic for the 17-year-olds, with 39% reporting frustration as one of their biggest problems and 63.6% reporting depression. Variation in the adolescent JAQQ scores was explained by functional disability, pain, and disease activity.
JIA can have a significant adverse effect on the HRQOL of adolescents. The JAQQ is a useful tool to assess the HRQOL of UK adolescents with JIA, but there is need for improved measures that incorporate developmentally appropriate issues.