The health-related quality of life of patients suffering from the late effects of polio (post-polio)
In Sweden alone, there are today approximately 10 000–16 500 polio survivors. Between 60% and 80% experience new symptoms several years after the initial attack of poliomyelitis. The aims of this study were to investigate and describe the self-rated health-related quality of life and functional status of a group of Swedish patients with post-polio, to investigate whether any differences within the group could be related to demographic or disease-specific data and to compare the post-polio patients with individuals sampled from the general population. Data were obtained by using two questionnaires, the Swedish Health-Related Quality of Life Questionnaire (SWED-QUAL) and the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP). A total of 150 patients, 86 women and 64 men with median age 61 (20–82) years, were consecutively included. The study showed that the patients mainly reported that their physical, functional status was affected by their post-polio condition. Factors found to be associated with the physical, functional status were age and the number of parts of the body affected by the polio. On comparing the post-polio patients with two samples from the Swedish general population, it was found that the patients reported a poorer functional status and health-related quality of life. The women with post-polio reported more pain, as compared with both the men with post-polio and the women in the general population sample. The family life of the patients — in contrast to their physical abilities — did not seem to be affected by the new deteriorating condition. It is concluded that, owing to the wide range of symptoms, the patients with post-polio need care and support from multidisciplinary teams, including nurses and occupational therapists.