Constitutional Symptoms and Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Symptomatic HIV Disease

Published in: The American Journal of Medicine, v. 104, no. 2, Feb. 1998, p. 129-136

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1998

by William Cunningham, Martin F. Shapiro, Ron D. Hays, Wilfrid Joseph Dixon, Barbara Visscher, Lance George, Margot K. Ettl, C. Keith Beck

Read More

Access further information on this document at The American Journal of Medicine

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The purpose of this study was to assess the severity of constitutional symptoms in persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and their relationship to health-related quality of life. Two hundred five HIV-infected patients with diarrhea, fever, or weight loss were studied at a county hospital and a Veterans Administration hospital in southern California. Consenting subjects were administered a battery that included 11 scales measuring various aspects of health-related quality of life and detailed questions about six constitutional symptoms or symptom complexes (myalgias, exhaustion, anorexia/nausea/vomiting, night sweats, fever, and weight loss) as well as about other manifestations of HIV disease. What the study found was that constitutional symptoms except weight loss were all strongly related to all measures of quality of life. On 0 (worst) to 100 (best) point scales, mean scores ranged from 34 (for individuals having all five symptoms other than weight loss) to 78 (for those with none) for physical function, 43 to 79 for emotional well-being, and 36 to 73 for social function. Adjustment for helper T-lymphocyte counts, duration of illness, and demographic characteristics did not diminish these associations. The presence, number, and severity of constitutional symptoms in HIV disease is strongly related to health-related quality of life in symptomatic HIV-infected individuals. Identifying and treating these very common symptoms has the potential to improve quality of life in these patients.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.