Are Physician-Derived Disease Severity Indices Associated with Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease?

Published in: American Journal of Gastroenterology, v. 99, no. 9, Sep. 2004, p. 1726-1732

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Fasiha Kanwal, Ron D. Hays, Amy Kilbourne, Gareth S. Dulai, Ian M. Gralnek

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OBJECTIVES: Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score is now often used as an overall indicator of health status for patients with end-stage liver disease. However, there are no data evaluating the associations between MELD scores and patient reports of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). METHODS: Two hundred-three patients with end-stage liver disease completed a disease-targeted HRQOL instrument (the LDQOL 1.0). Patients also rated the severity of their liver disease and reported number of disability days attributed to their liver disease in the preceding month. MELD and Child Turcott Pugh (CTP) scores were calculated for all patients. Associations of MELD and CTP scores with patient-derived outcomes were estimated. RESULTS: The mean MELD and CTP scores were 12 and 7, respectively, indicating mild severity of liver disease. HRQOL of patients was generally poor, with the mean SF-36 physical and mental component summary scores of 35 and 40. Seventy percent of patients rated their liver disease symptoms as moderate to severe. Similarly, 70% reported being disabled from their liver disease. MELD was associated with physical functioning scale and the physical component summary (PCS) score in patients with end-stage liver disease. In contrast, CTP score was significantly associated with physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health problems, PCS score, effects of liver disease, sexual functioning, and sexual problems. Both MELD and CTP scores correlated with self-rated severity of liver disease symptoms but not with self-reported disability days. CONCLUSIONS: Despite objectively mild liver disease, the subjective HRQOL of this cohort was severely impaired. CTP score was more closely associated with patient-reported estimates of HRQOL than the MELD score. CTP or disease-specific HRQOL instruments may compliment MELD by providing insights into outcomes of importance to patients with low risk of mortality.

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