Are patients able to attribute QOL problems to a specific condition when they have multiple comorbid conditions?

WORCESTER, MA, May 30, 2014.   The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced the award of a grant to Dr. John Ware and researchers he leads at UMass Medical School and JWRG to break new ground by taking a previous measurement advance into a new direction. An innovative computerized measurement advance, the Quality of Life Disease Impact Scale (QDIS®), makes it much easier to gather individualized information from patients who have multiple chronic conditions. QDIS was developed by JWRG to rapidly and reliably determine how much each individual chronic condition a patient has and all comorbid conditions combined affect what they are able to do, how they feel and their overall quality of life (QOL). The ultimate goal is to better quantify patient “voices” to better understand how to improve the outcomes of their care. The R&D project uses a large national database already collected by JWRG for representative samples of chronically-ill US adults. The information it contains is unique because it is the first to standardize both the content and scoring of disease-specific QOL measures to capture patient reported health and QOL outcomes.  QDIS is also the first norm-based scoring of disease-specific QOL impact across multiple conditions.  The breakthrough that made the national database possible was JWRG’s new Internet-based system that automatically adapts self-administered surveys to measure the impact of multiple diseases. AHRQ peer reviewers noted many significant strengths of the new UMass-JWRG R&D project, including a strong investigative team of highly productive researchers, a scientifically rigorous approach to determining how well patients are able to attribute QOL problems to a specific condition when they have multiple conditions, and the use of proven analytic methods to evaluate alternative strategies for aggregating single disease measures into an overall QOL impact score. The Principal Investigator, a UMass Professor and JWRG’s Chief Science Officer, is an internationally respected leader in health status and QOL measurement. Under Dr. Ware’s leadership, the reviewers of the project predicted that this work carries the promise of high impact and wide dissemination throughout the health care field.

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