Vanderbilt head and neck symptom survey version 2.0: Report of the development and initial testing of a subscale for assessment of oral health


  • This work was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2010 annual meeting in Patient and Survivor Care poster session under title “Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom Survey version 2.0 (VHNSS 2.0): A Tool for Study of Long-term Oral Health Consequences of Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer (HNC).” For a copy of the VHNSS 2.0, please contact the corresponding author.



The prevalence, severity, and functional implications of adverse oral health outcomes attributed to head and neck cancer therapy are largely undefined. We report development of an oral health outcome subscale for the Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom Survey (VHNSS).


Oral health outcome questions were formulated through literature review and consultation with an expert panel. Questions were incorporated into the VHNSS resulting in a 50-item survey, scored 0 (none) to 10 (severe). The tool was administered to 70 subjects who completed radiation to assess for feasibility.


Patient acceptance was high with a completion time <10 minutes. A full range of scores was noted for 46 of 50 questions. Oral health symptom burden was high early and late posttreatment.


The VHNSS version 2.0 was feasible and could be completed in a timely manner. Validation studies are ongoing. The high prevalence of adverse oral health outcomes warrants further study. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2011