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Comparison of Distribution- and Anchor-Based Approaches to Infer Changes in Health-Related Quality of Life of Prostate Cancer Survivors

Keywords: Prostate cancer; health-related quality of life; minimal important difference; anchor based; distribution based.

Objective: To determine the minimal important difference (MID) in generic and prostate-specific health-related quality of life (HRQoL) using distribution- and anchor-based methods.

Study Design and Setting: Prospective cohort study of 602 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients recruited from an urban academic hospital and a Veterans Administration hospital. Participants completed generic (SF-36) and prostate-specific HRQoL surveys at baseline and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months posttreatment. Anchor-based and distribution-based methods were used to develop MID estimates. We compared the proportion of participants returning to baseline based on MID estimates from the two methods.

Results: MID estimates derived from combining distribution- and anchor-based methods for the SF-36 subscales are physical function = 7, role physical = 14, role emotional = 12, vitality = 9, mental health = 6, social function = 9, bodily pain = 9, and general health = 8; and for the prostate-specific scales are urinary function = 8, bowel function = 7, sexual function = 8, urinary bother = 9, bowel bother = 8, and sexual bother = 11. Proportions of participants returning to baseline values corresponding to MID estimates from the two methods were comparable.

Conclusions: This is the first study to assess the MID for generic and prostate-specific HRQoL using anchor-based and distribution-based methods. Although variation exists in the MID estimates derived from these two methods, the recovery patterns corresponding to these estimates were comparable.

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