Background Generic and disease-specific quality-of-life (QOL) questionnaires are commonly used in subjects with allergic rhinitis (AR). AR, however, is closely associated with other disorders such as bronchial asthma and atopic dermatitis (AD). These co-morbid associations may have an effect on the inter-relation of generic and disease-specific QOL outcomes and the behaviour of this inter-relation in time.
Objective To unravel the inter-relationships between the outcome of a generic instrument (SF-36) and a disease-specific instrument (Rhinitis QOL Questionnaire (RQLQ)).
Materials and methods In the framework of a randomized clinical trial with respect to the efficacy of impermeable bedding covers in house dust mite (HDM) allergy, SF-36 and RQLQ were administered to 224 adults with AR and/or allergic asthma and/or AD at baseline and after 12 months of intervention. Regression analysis and canonical correlation were used to estimate overlap.
Results Overlap between SF-36 and RQLQ domains in terms of explained variance ranged from 6% to 56%. Canonical correlation yielded low coefficients (0.16–0.27). Moreover, both SF-36 and RQLQ scores did not change significantly during the intervention.
Conclusion In patients with HDM allergy characterized by co-morbid associations, SF-36 and RQLQ cover different aspects in QOL. It is advocated to use both simultaneously in performing QOL studies.