Quality-of-Life in Achilles Tendinopathy: An Exploratory Study

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Abstract

Objective:

This research aimed to explore the quality-of-life and experiences of people with Achilles tendinopathy.

Design:

This mixed-methods research used the 8-dimension Assessment of Quality-of-Life (AQoL-8D), focus groups and grounded theory analysis. AQoL-8D scores were compared with population normative scores. In focus groups, participants discussed their experiences with Achilles tendinopathy.

Setting:

An online survey was completed, followed by focus groups and interviews held at the University of Canberra.

Participants:

Adults with Achilles tendon pain were eligible to participate in the online survey, which was distributed through email and social media.

Results:

Complete survey responses were obtained from 92 individuals, and 11 individuals participated in focus groups and interviews. AQoL-8D scores were significantly lower in those with Achilles tendinopathy (79 ± 11 vs 81 ± 13). AQoL-8Ds of mental health, pain, senses, and the physical “super dimension” were also significantly lower. The difference exceeded the AQoL-8D minimum clinically important difference of 6% only for the pain dimension. Themes identified included adapting lifestyles, living with the condition, changes in mental and social well-being, conflict with identity, frustration, and individual experiences.

Conclusions:

Achilles tendinopathy is associated with a lower quality-of-life score, but on average, the difference does not exceed the minimum clinically important difference. In focus groups, some individuals described profound impacts on their life. This discrepancy likely reflects the variability of the impact across individuals. For some people, the effect is minimal, yet for those who tie their identity and social activities to fitness and physical activity, the effect can be profound.

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