Introduction: To date we have available specific instruments assessing health-related quality of life (HRQL) in rhinoconjunctivitis or in asthma, but not instruments evaluating rhinitis and asthma together, although they often coexist. The aim of our study was to develop and validate a specific quality of life (QoL) questionnaire for adult patients with rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma or both.
Materials and methods: A pool of 42 items covering the main symptoms and problems related to respiratory allergy, was generated based on literature review and clinical experience. The items were randomly listed and presented to 148 consecutive outpatients 46 suffering from asthma (age 32.9 ± 14.3 years), 53 suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis (age 32.6 ± 11.5 years) and 49 from asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis (age 35.6 ± 12.2 years). The patients were asked to indicate which item they had directly experienced and for each of them, its importance on a four-point scale (1 = not important; 4 = very important). Twelve items were cancelled from the list, because of low importance or redundance. In the instrument validation phase, 104 patients (42 with rhinoconjunctivitis alone and 62 with asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis) were evaluated with the generic instrument SF-36 and the new questionnaire (RHINASTHMA).
Results: RHINASTHMA was able to differentiate patients with rhinitis from those with both rhinitis and asthma. In stable condition, RHINASTHMA showed good reliability. The factor analysis extracted three factors with a good reliability (0.93, 0.87, 0.76).
Discussion: RHINASTHMA is the first tool aimed at evaluating HRQL impairment in patients with rhinitis and/or asthma. It provides a short and simple assessment, and has overall psychometric properties. This is of relevance because of the frequent asthma–rhinitis comorbidity.