OBJECTIVE--To develop a valid and reliable outcome measure for patients with varicose veins. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire survey of patients with varicose veins. SETTING--Surgical outpatient departments and training general practices in Grampian region. SUBJECTS--373 patients, 287 of whom had just been referred to hospital for their varicose veins and 86 who had just consulted a general practitioner for this condition and, for comparison, a random sample of 900 members of the general population. MAIN MEASURES--Content validity, internal consistency, and criterion validity. RESULTS--281(76%) patients (mean age 45.8; 76% female) and 542(60%) of the general population (mean age 47.9; 54% female) responded. The questionnaire had good internal consistency as measured by item-total correlations. Factor analysis identified four important health factors: pain and dysfunction, cosmetic appearance, extent of varicosity and complications. The validity of the questionnaire was demonstrated by a high correlation with the SF-36 health profile, which is a general measure of patients' health. The perceived health of patients with varicose veins, as measured by the SF-36, was significantly lower than that of the sample of the general population adjusted for age and a lower proportion of women. CONCLUSION--A clinically derived questionnaire can provide a valid and reliable tool to assess the perceived health of patients with varicose veins. IMPLICATIONS--The questionnaire may be used to justify surgical treatment of varicose veins.
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