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Reliability, Validity, and Responsiveness of the DEG, a Three-Item Dyspnea Measure.

Ha DM, Deng LR, Lange AV, Swigris JJ, Bekelman DB. Reliability, Validity, and Responsiveness of the DEG, a Three-Item Dyspnea Measure. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Aug 1; 37(10):2541-2547.

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BACKGROUND: Dyspnea is a common and debilitating symptom that affects many different patient populations. Dyspnea measures should assess multiple domains. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the reliability, validity, and responsiveness of an ultra-brief, multi-dimensional dyspnea measure. DESIGN: We adapted the DEG from the PEG, a valid 3-item pain measure, to assess average dyspnea intensity (D), interference with enjoyment of life (E), and dyspnea burden with general activity (G). PARTICIPANTS: We used data from a multi-site randomized clinical trial among outpatients with heart failure. MAIN MEASURES: We evaluated reliability (Cronbach''s alpha), concurrent validity with the Memorial-Symptom-Assessment-Scale (MSAS) shortness-of-breath distress-orbothersome item and 7-item Generalized-Anxiety-Disorder (GAD-7) scale, knowngroups validity with New-York-Heart-Association-Functional-Classification (NYHA) 1-2 or 3-4 and presence or absence of comorbid chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), responsiveness with the MSAS item as an anchor, and calculated a minimal clinically important difference (MCID) using distribution methods. KEY RESULTS: Among 312 participants, the DEG was reliable (Cronbach''s alpha 0.92). The mean (standard deviation) DEG score was 5.26 (2.36) (range 0-10) points. DEG scores correlated strongly with the MSAS shortness of breath distress-or-bothersome item (r = 0.66) and moderately with GAD-7 categories (? = 0.36). DEG scores were statistically significantly lower among patients with NYHA 1-2 compared to 3-4 [mean difference (standard error): 1.22 (0.27) points, p < 0.01], and those without compared to with comorbid COPD [0.87 (0.27) points, p < 0.01]. The DEG was highly sensitive to change, with MCID of 0.59-1.34 points, or 11-25% change. CONCLUSIONS: The novel, ultra-brief DEG measure is reliable, valid, and highly responsive. Future studies should evaluate the DEG''s sensitivity to interventions, use anchor-based methods to triangulate MCID estimates, and determine its prognostic usefulness among patients with chronic cardiopulmonary and other diseases.

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