Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the quality of life of otitis media (OM) patients and their caregivers.
Study Design: A cross-sectional study was conducted at 11 otolaryngology and five pediatric clinics in the United States between July 1998 and August 1999. All patients, regardless of primary complaint, completed a demographic survey, OM-6 survey, and Child Health Questionaire-PF28 survey by proxy. Physicians completed an International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision diagnosis sheet for each patient.
Methods: Analysis, including Spearman rank correlation, was restricted to study patients with active OM.
Results: A total of 1,001 patients with active OM were identified: 503 OM with effusion, 267 acute OM, and 258 recurrent acute OM. Median patient age was 2 years (interquartile range, 1–5). Mean caretaker age was 32.6 years (standard deviation, 7.4). There was moderate correlation between OM frequency and physical suffering (r = 0.50; P < .001) and caregiver concerns (r = 0.45; P < .001). Moderate correlation was found between percentage of time with fluid in the ears and caregiver concerns (r = 0.46; P < .001) and physical suffering (r = 0.43; P < .001). OM patients over 5 years of age scored significantly worse than healthy children ages 5 to 7 years in almost all areas of global health, including physical functioning and impact on caretaker's personal time and emotions.
Conclusion: The global quality of life of patients with OM over 5 years of age is worse than that of healthy children of similar age. Physical suffering and caregiver concerns are associated with frequent OM or effusion duration. Hopefully, these results will direct the focus of future outcomes studies.