Lebanon, N.H.From the Section of Plastic Surgery, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and the Clinical Research Section, Department of Medicine, and Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School.
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The purpose of this article is to introduce the measurement of utilities, or patient preferences, to the plastic surgery community. Specifically, the study demonstrated the development and validation of a utility measure for estimating the health-related quality of life in women with breast hypertrophy. Two self-administered instruments were developed, a Wheel and a Table. All subjects completed the utility assessments for their “current health” and again for “breast-related symptoms.” The reliability of the instruments was assessed in repeat (test-retest) interviews of 47 women within 10 to 18 days. Utilities obtained with the new instruments were also compared with the performance of other validated utility assessment instruments, including a visual analogue scale, a computer-based instrument (U-Titer), and a preference classification system (EuroQol). Of the 47 women in the test-retest reliability study, 21 had experienced breast hypertrophy (13 had not had reduction surgery and 8 had undergone reduction mammaplasty). Mean utility values for breast-related symptoms among women with breast hypertrophy (n = 13) were:Table, 0.85; Wheel, 0.90; and U-Titer, 0.66. Current health utility scores were significantly lower for women with breast hypertrophy (n = 13), as measured by all instruments except the Wheel. The Table had good reliability and distinguished women with breast hypertrophy from those without. Although the Table provided higher utility values for the same health state compared with the computer-based interview (U-Titer), it is much less costly to implement. The Table is recommended as a reasonable alternative for use in multicenter studies of women with breast hypertrophy. The reported utility value for breast hypertrophy of 0.86 is much lower than predicted. It is comparable with the reported burden of living with other health conditions, such as moderate angina (0.90) and a kidney transplant (0.84).